“I give you a new commandment – just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” Jesus gives the example of what it means to love.
Jesus’ love is unmerited. We don’t deserve the love of God. He created us before we could give him anything. There is nothing we can give him in return that he does not already have. Do expect others however, to earn our love? Do they need to do show us kindness before we will give it in return? If a friend forgets to call – do we call anyway? If a family member fails to lend a helping hand – are we willing to take the initiative?
Jesus’ love is Universal – Jesus loves everyone. There is no person on earth today, no person who ever lived who was not loved by Jesus Christ. In the Gospel’s Jesus shows interest in the rich and the poor, the Jews and the Gentiles, sinners and saints, tax collectors and scribes. Do we show kindness to every person we meet? Or do we stick to people who are similar to us or are we willing to make friends with those who are older or younger, of a different culture or country, someone of different social standing. Many people today talk about an open mind a broad mind – more important is an open heart – being able to give time and kindness to people different from ourselves.
Jesus loved each person in a unique way. While it is true that Jesus loved everyone, it does not mean he treated everyone in exactly the same way. He had friends – Lazarus, Mary and Martha. He took Peter, James and John apart from the other twelve disciples – John was able to be called the “disciple Jesus loved”, Peter was given a special task. Jesus conversation with the woman at the well was different from his conversation with Nicodemus or the rich young man. Love is not an abstract idea – it involves concrete individuals who we must love in a unique way. There is a joke about some social activists “They have a great love for humanity, but little love for individual humans.” We must love individuals – and this means getting to know them and to understand them.
Finally Jesus love is unlimited. Jesus gives us everything. He teaches us everything the Father has shown him, he gives his very life for us on the cross. He pours his very spirit into our hearts. He continues to come to us hidden in the Blessed Eucharist – we can receive him in practically any place in the world on almost every day of the week. Do we place limits on our love? I will give 100$ but not 200$ – I will pray for an hour but not for 2 – I can forgive 7 times but not 77? Are we are willing to give some of our heart, mind and soul, but not all….What do we want to keep for ourselves?
Jesus love is unmerited, universal, unique and unlimited. Jesus calls us to love like him – our love must be unmerited, universal, unique and unlimited. How could we possibly love in this way?
Last few weeks our grade 2 children celebrated their first communion. I taught the children a prayer to say after communion which Pope Benedict taught to children in Benin, Africa. “Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love. I give you all my joys, my troubles and my future.” The Eucharist is the sacrament of the Love of Jesus Christ – it is unmerited: we are not worthy to receive him – it is universal: offered for all the world, not just Catholics – it is unique: Our Lord touches each soul who receives him in a different way – It is unlimited: Jesus gives us his everything, Body Blood Soul and Divinity.
By receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, we receive his love and are able to love with his love. We are able to give everything we have as he has given to us – without limit, without discrimination.
Jesus, I know that you love me. Give me your love so that I can love you in return and love others with your love.