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Father Muench Says...

Loving each other as Jesus loves us

May 15, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

During the Easter Season, a Sunday each year is dedicated to Jesus’ new commandment, his commandment of love. John’s Gospel describes at length Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper. During that discourse, Jesus tells his apostles of his new commandment.

In John 13:34, Jesus says: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
This is a new commandment only in the sense that it sets a new standard – “as I have loved you.” Our goal as disciples of Jesus is to love others as Jesus loved. The apostles were well aware of the depths of the love with which Jesus lived and loved. The apostles witnessed the way that Jesus demonstrated his love for everyone he met. Jesus came to bring himself and his love for us all – for the people of all time. Jesus loved us all as he suffered and died on the cross. Such love this world has never known. The followers of Jesus have taught this love for all time. We are all to imitate Jesus when we love as he did.

We are all called to love like Jesus. We know the Gospel stories of Jesus’ love. Jesus loved others so deeply that he worked miracles, as a demonstration of his love, as he recognized other’s needs. Jesus’ love was so deep and so powerful that he often felt that he simply must do something. Can we love like Jesus? Is it possible? Jesus makes it clear for us that when we unite ourselves with him in a close and loving relationship, we will find the power, the faith and hope to love others as he loved; we will become a loving people.

So, let us talk about love. Here are a few ideas that I found somewhere. Love makes us instruments of God’s providence in the lives of others. Our love becomes the channel through which they will experience the love of God. Love always brings out the best in the one who loves. People are at their best and brightest when they love. Love is a choice not a feeling. But to refuse to love is to begin to die. The worst thing of all is a cold indifference.

As you might expect I have spoken of God’s love and mercy often in my homilies. Recently, our Sunday Scripture tells us of Jesus reaching out to Peter, preparing Peter to be a leader of the Church. Jesus challenges Peter to be a loving person. Jesus asks Peter three times: “Do you love me, Peter?”

Peter had failed Jesus at the time of his arrest and crucifixion. Peter had boldly promised to stand by Jesus even to the death. But he failed. Three times he denied ever knowing Jesus. Jesus did not reject Peter. But Jesus made it clear to Peter that the only healing solution he asked of him was love.

Peter would find the wisdom and the strength of leadership only through a deep and honest love for his Lord and Savior. The same is true for us. We will become good disciples of Jesus – ready to follow Jesus living a good life and bringing his message to our world – through our recognition of God’s great love for us and our readiness to be a loving person – to love as Jesus did.

So, we pray: Lord, touch our hearts so that we may be people who are able to love, and thus we will enjoy the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live forever and ever.

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