CANON ANTHONY WRITES:-
Throughout the Gospels, and so in our life of faith, the word ‘love’ is one that we hear very often – some might even say too often! And indeed beyond the Church it is a word that is frequently used sometimes very appropriately, and at other times greatly misused, let alone understood.
Love, properly understood, is something very special indeed. It is very special because it comes from God, it is of God. In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus giving the disciples a new commandment – to love one another. When we truly love one another, we are experiencing something of the divine as love comes from God, love is God and God is love.
We might wonder why Jesus’ command to love should be regarded as new? It could not have been new to the disciples and those of their time; the commandment is well known in the Old Testament. Jesus though, as we know, comes to make all things new, he comes to give new light to all that has gone before. So when he speaks of a ‘new’ commandment he is not saying that love is new, but rather that they are to love in a new way.
Jesus comes to teach, to show the way, and he comes to teach his followers how they are to love. And he teaches them that they are to love as he has loved – they, we, are to love as Jesus has loved. To love as Jesus loved is daunting, it is challenging because it is without exclusion, without restriction. We see that Jesus’ love is unlimited each time we look at him upon the Cross. We experience his love each time he gives himself to us, again and again, in Holy Communion.
To love without limit is a challenge for us, we may not like it, it will be uncomfortable to love those it is hard to love. Jesus’ radical love was too much for some of the religious leaders of his time, and ultimately lead to his death. This radically inclusive love is also demanding today for those who follow Christ. It is demanding to love the sinner, to love those on the margins of our society, to love those who have hurt us, to welcome back those who have done wrong. That is the call that is made to us, that is what we are called to every day, to love in a new way – the way that Jesus has shown us.