“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34
Being a disciple of Jesus means we must follow the example he set for us. Wash the feet of one another. Share bread and wine with one another. Love one another. “Die” in the name of love.
How hard is it to let yourself die in the name of love? I don’t mean physical death, but death of ideals and beliefs; the essence of who we are. How hard is it to let die your ideas of what the world is, how it works, what is right and wrong, who is holy and evil, of what is sinful? Apparently it is very difficult since we (myself included) seem to be incapable of doing it… because we choose to kill Jesus’ [ideas] instead of our own. We choose our own righteousness over love.
We fail. As surely as the people who rejected Jesus put him on the cross, we reject him today every time we fail to show love among ourselves. We betray Jesus. We deny Jesus. We crucify Jesus.
As I reflected during this Holy Week, I was reminded of many ways we still refuse to show love to one another. I read a story of three migrants who were suffocated in the desert; ached for a mother who cried over the death of her son. As I listened to God’s desire for us to love one another, I felt despair. In the face of the blatant call for love, I asked myself again, “Why is this so hard for us?” Why is it difficult to show grace and forgiveness? Why can we not follow the example of Jesus?
I wondered to myself: “What would the world look like if we showed each other love?”
- Split up families because of their national origin?
- Forget about our elderly because they are costly to take care of?
- Tell victims of rape it was their fault for dressing so slutty?
- Build walls between our neighbors and ourselves?
- Kill each other for drugs or profit?
- Call people whores because they use contraceptives?
- Engage in war?
- Turn away sick people for lack of insurance?
- Deny refugee status to people who are in danger?
- Disown our children because of their sexuality?
- Save our riches and ignore the poor?
- Condemn people to hell?
- Claim we don’t have enough bread to feed one another?
We have all the pieces to creating the world that Jesus taught us about. We can make it happen by following the examples of love taught to us. I wonder what would happen if I let my own sinful self-righteous ideas die in order to work toward heaven on earth. I wonder what would happen if we all acted like Jesus.
But we don’t. Holy week ends the same. We are plunged into darkness. We are lost. We chose the ideas of Barabbas. We have given Jesus up for crucifixion once again. Jesus is dead and we yet live in a broken world waiting for someone to fix it while we have the tools and instructions lying at our feet.
I wonder when we will start acting like disciples of Jesus.
God have mercy.
I confess that I’ve missed the mark. I have not loved you with all my heart, soul, and mind. I certainly have not loved my neighbors the way you have shown to do. Many days I don’t even love myself. I'm sorry I put obeying rules and regulations over loving others. I’m sorry I leaned toward the law and not towards love. Show me how to love more freely; others, myself, and you.
Please take a few minutes of silence for reflection before Easter…