In today's Gospel Jesus gives us a new commandment: love one another. In one way this commandment is not all that new. In fact, in Leviticus chapter 19 God gives the command to love one's neighbor. So, this command has been given before. Yet, there is a new added twist: Love one another as I have loved you.
First of all, what does this love look like? Earlier in John's gospel we hear that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son so that all those who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life. Love looks like Jesus. Love is the cause of the incarnation, love brings about the birth of Christ. Love is an outpouring, it is generous and it is humble, being born in a manger. This is certainly included in Jesus' new command to love: our love is to be generous, humble, love is to be poured out for others. Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, to raise all of us, slaves to sin, to the heights of heaven.
What is the cost of love? We see the price of love whenever we look upon the crucifix. This is the cost of love. Because of sin, because of our fallen nature, we are destined to die. God did not make us to die, but that is our fate because of sin. Yet, Christ, because of his great love for us, decided to take death upon himself. The lord of life mounted the wood of the cross and destroyed death forever. When the light of the world, Jesus Christ, enters into the darkness of sin and death on the cross his bright light pierces the darkness, scattering it forever. This, also, is included in Jesus' new command to love one another. Christ gives us the great example: love suffers for others. We are so used to seeing the crucifix, we have them hanging everywhere. Really it is a strange symbol. Jesus Christ was killed by the Romans and we hold on to this image, this grisly reality: why? Because, it shows us the cost of love. This should inspire our faith: looking at the cross reminds us of the great love that Christ had for us. That he loved us to the very end. And it gives us a model to emulate: we too accept the sufferings that come with love.
What is the end of love? So far we have thought about love as being generous and humble, that it comes with a cost of self-sacrifice, but to what end? In the mystery of Christ raised from the dead we see the end of love: life itself. Death cannot contain love, it cannot overcome love. When Christ rises from the dead we see the outcome of love: new and everlasting life. When we love as Christ loves us, with patience, generosity, humility, and suffering, the result is life: not just the life that is to come, but life even here and now. Christ abundantly blesses love. When we love we enter into Christ. When we love one another we enter into the very mystery of God's own love. And it is by communion with that mystery that we find the source of life.
What are examples of this kind of love? The first thing we think about are the great saints, especially the martyrs, who laid down their lives for the faith. Perhaps we think about the missionaries who brought faith to the corners of the world. We think of Mother Teresa and her amazing work with the poor. All of these are examples of following Christ's command to love. But, so are the everyday things of our lives: a mother caring for a sick child, a husband working two jobs, young people striving for holiness and chastity. In fact, one reason that this is a new commandment is that Christ is not so much dictating certain actions as he is telling us about the Christian attitude. No matter what you are doing, no matter what your station in life: do it with love. Do it with humility, patience, generosity, and suffering. Putting on the mind and heart of Christ will guide us down the path of love.
As we turn now to receive this sacrament of love, ask Christ to form within you a loving heart. This loving heart helps us to live lives of holiness now and will prepare us for that kingdom he has prepared for us: a new heaven and a new earth where all things are made new through the power of love made evident on the cross and truly present in this holy Sacrament.