Friday, May 08, 2015

Love One Another As I Love You

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Jesus said to his disciples:  This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  (John 15:12-13)

The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.   (I John 3:16)

As I imagine myself sitting around the table with the disciples listening to Jesus after the Last Supper, my mind begins to wander.  Jesus has been talking for quite a while.  Now he is speaking of love.  “Love one another as I love you.”

I lose track of what he is saying, because I am pondering the ways in which I have experienced Jesus’ love, too many to count.  First, there is the gift of my very existence.  Sometimes I look at the stars at night and think about the vastness of God’s creation.  The outer reaches of what we know of the universe would take billions of light years to reach.  It boggles my mind to think of the size of God’s handiwork.  I feel like a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things, yet Jesus loves me and chose to call me into being and to give me the gift of life.      

Jesus says to love others as he loves us.  I wonder if I am a life-giving presence to my brothers and sisters.  Where there is happiness, do I rejoice with my friends?  Where there is sadness, do I bring comfort?  Where there is strife, do I sow seeds of peace?  Where there is need, do I share what I have?

Jesus has placed me here on earth, knowing I am in the midst of a created order that can supply all my needs for food, water, air, shelter, clothing – all the necessities of life.  I am amply provided for.

But am I grateful for all that God has created or do I simply take it for granted?  Do I love my brothers and sisters enough to use only what I need?  Do I care enough about the generations to come to leave it all in good shape for them?  Hard questions.

I am not just left to my own devices on this earth.  Jesus is the cornerstone of my life. I have never needed or wanted to talk to him that he hasn’t already been there waiting for me.  He delights in my joys.  He comforts and heals me in times of trouble or distress.  He shows me the path of life and encourages me to follow where he leads.

When he says to love others as he loves me, I wonder if I am there for others as he is there for me.  Am I truly present to my brothers and sisters?  Am I patient?  Do I listen with the ears of my heart?  Do I respond with compassion?

When Jesus says there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, he is speaking from his heart.  He literally gives his life for us on the Cross.  In his dying moments, he asks his Father to forgive us, saying we have no idea what we are doing.

How good am I at forgiving?  How merciful am I toward others?  I may never be asked to literally give up my life for anyone, but can I put my self-interest aside and truly focus my attention on the concerns of my friends? 

Spend some time today thinking about ways in which you experience Jesus’ love.  Then take a few minutes to reflect on how you share that love with others. 

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