Readings: Exodus 12: 1-4; 11-14; I Cor. 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-17; 31b-35
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you,” said Jesus in today’s Gospel reading but what does it mean?
Love is a much-used word in our world and its popularity can lead to confusion. Love can begin with passion and can incarnate it with t steadfastness and direction, but love is more than passion. Love is more than something we desire or a life goal. Love is an act of will (meaning it is an existential choice) which goes beyond feelings or any reward.
Love, for Christians, is a reflection of the love God has for us; it is the daily opportunity we have to bring light to our world (i.e. our daily life amongst the people with whom we work and live). It allows us to see others not as means to an end; we do not look upon another scheming how we can benefit or profit from him/her. Rather love points us to see the other as a brother and sister.
What do I mean that we reflect God’s love and how might this look? The Gospel of John speaks of the Last Supper and unlike the other three Gospels there is no dramatic scene instituting the Eucharist but instead a humble God assuming the position of a servant washing feet! Love in the form of service and selflessness that is what we are called to do as Christians; this is a hard task, no doubt, but one which God offers us grace.
So why does John offer us this story on Holy Thursday and not the more common narrative about the breaking of the bread? Scripture scholars would say that the Gospel of John flows from another oral tradition about Jesus which is probably the case but I think, perhaps, John wanted us to find a balance. Matthew, Mark and Luke (the other three Gospels) remind us that through the Eucharist Christ is always with us not just as a spirit but a real presence. A presence to remind us, guide us, console us and challenge us. Perhaps John wanted to remind us that Eucharist also calls us not only to a recognition of Christ’s presence in the bread and wine but our call to make Christ present among those we meet daily. We do this through love!
Please support Mission Doctors as they show love through humble service of God’s sick.
Happy Holy Thursday!