Jesus is echoing God’s own words in Leviticus, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.’ (Leviticus 19:18)
We know this passage. It is at the very heart of all the commandments. It is an invitation to enter into the very life of God. It is the “cor cordium,” the heart of hearts, of our Christian faith. Indeed, to call oneself a Christian is to believe, to understand, and to humbly accept the duties of this commandment from Jesus.
Jesus speaks these words at the Last supper, just after Judas has left to betray him. Everything has come to a head. The hour has come for Jesus’ suffering and death. Knowing this he speaks to the rest of the Apostles with a powerful intimacy saying, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’”
Here we see, as clearly as anywhere in the Gospels, that Jesus and the Father are One. Jesus is echoing God’s own words in Leviticus, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18) As Christians we believe in the love of God. We know that it was God’s love that created all things and sustains all things at all times. We have seen the depths of its power in Jesus, in his coming into the world as one like us, in his suffering and in his death and resurrection. It is the love of God that has conquered sin and death once and for all. It is this love that Jesus commands us to share with one another.
When we humbly open ourselves to God he pours his love into us unstintingly and unconditionally. It is his love that dwells within us in his Holy Spirit, that guides us, encourages us, and nourishes us in the form of strengthening grace. He fills us to overflowing with it. It is this love that we are commanded to share with one another, with our neighbors, with the poor, the sick, the lonely, and those who have been cast aside. Indeed, as Christians, we know that, like Jesus, we are to love even our enemies. When we forgive those who have trespassed against us and reconcile with them, we are actively participating in the love that Jesus commands of us. This is our calling as Christians. We are to participate personally, here and now, in the love that saved the world. In doing so, we are bringing that salvation to all those people God has given to us in our homes, in our workplaces, and in the environments of our daily lives.
Lord, we pray for the graces we need to do your will, to love one another as you so loved us. Help us to let go of all those things that prevent us from doing so. Where there is hatred, or discord, or injury, let us sow your love, peace and forgiveness. Give us the courage to bend our selfish wills to your generous will of love in all that we say and do. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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