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Jesus Connects Authentic Discipleship with Love

by David Gray, April 28, 2013

seder

This Sunday’s Gospel Reading at the Sacrifice of the Mass for the Fifth Sunday in Easter comes from John 13:31-33A, 34-35 and concerns Jesus’ teaching that connects the command to sacrificially love with the call to of sacrificial discipleship.

    “When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once.

    My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.””

It seems to be natural tradition among humans, shortly before our departure from this side of existence, to bestow parting blessings on those who we are attached to. One example of that tendency we find in sacred Scripture in is Genesis chapter twenty-seven, where the old man Isaac sought out his sons Jacob and Esau to bless them. Isaac’s blessings did not have the power to control or predestine anyone’s life. His blessings only had as much influence on the future as Jacob and Esau allowed it, and for quite a long while the influence that it gave Esau was the license to hate his brother. In modern times, we like to produce living wills and intentionally leave behind keepsakes and estates.

In the narrative today, after Judas had departed, Jesus knew that His present life on earth was nearing its conclusion. Without question, our great inheritance and divine blessing from Christ Jesus is the fruit of His passion, which is the Holy Spirit and the Church (the Temple of the Holy Spirit), but shortly before His death what He gave to us here was not just the fulfillment of all the commands, “Love one another,” but also the greatest blessing of self-examination.

Early in the Gospel of John (8:32) Jesus told the Jews who believed in Him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Now what Jesus gives us is the valid self-examination to know whether we are truly living as His disciples and positioned for authentic freedom. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Later the Apostle John expounded upon this command and self-examination by writing, “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). Thus, according to the Apostle John, it is impossible for us to love each other unless we first love God, for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). Those who love God do not live in an ongoing state of sin against Him. Likewise, those who love God, do not repeatedly sin against those who God loves.

Are we surprised then that immorality and violence against each other continues in this world? Wherever there is continuous sin; wherever there is unrepentant immorality; wherever there is violence against God’s creation; there is also no discipleship to Christ; no love of the truth (Jesus); and no authentic freedom. Those who do not love God, can only hate self and hate neighbor. Those who do not love God can only sin against Him, and they will sin against God by sinning against neighbor.

Christ Jesus on the Cross and Him with a whip – turning over tables at the Temple are two of my favorite images of how Jesus loved, simply just because they are so counter-cultural to how to world understands love. These images help me stay focused against the ongoing deception of false love, often being presented under the guise of apathy, emotionalism, false validation, and false affirmation.

The call of today’s Gospel is for us to continue to work to examine self and our environment along the simple boundary that Christ Jesus gave us to do so – ‘Have you loved others, as I loved you?’ As we continue to grow in knowledge and discipleship to better understand truly how it is that Christ loved us, our answers and responses to that question will become more penetrating and efficacious.

PSALM 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.

Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.

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Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

1 Comment


  • [...] Sunday’s Gospel Reading from from John 13:31-33A, 34-35, Jesus made the connection between Authentic Discipleship and Love. Continuing onto John 14:23-29 in this Sunday’s Gospel Reading, Jesus now makes a beautiful, [...]

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