The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how the small Christian communities helped the work of renewal in their members by their agape love, imitating the agape love of Paul and Barnabas. The second reading, from the Book of Revelation, explains how God renews His Church, the New Jerusalem, by being present in her members, in their parish communities, and in their liturgical celebrations. “See, I am making all things new.”
Today’s Gospel reading comes from St. John’s Gospel, known as “The Last Discourse,” which took place at the Last Supper, on the night before Jesus went to the Cross. In these chapters, Jesus has left urgent messages for his Apostles and for us – things that he wanted to tell us before he went away. This farewell discourse is a powerful and intimate part of Jesus’ teaching on the Christian concepts of glory and love.
Today’s Gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:35). Jesus has added a new element to the Old Testament command of love by teaching us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us, with sacrificial, selfless, self-giving, unconditional, agape love. Hence, the renewal of Christian life means a radical change of vision and a reordering of our priorities in life. Such a renewal brings us to embrace new attitudes, new values, and new standards of relating to God, to other people and, indeed, to our whole environment.
We are asked to love as Jesus loved, in the ordinary course of our lives. We love others by responding to their everyday needs with love and compassion. We love others by comforting and protecting those who have experienced loss. We love others by serving others in every possible way, no matter how small, seeing the face of Jesus in them. We love others by forgiving rather than condemning, by challenging rather than condoning. Finally, we love others by sacrificially sharing our time, talents, and blessings with them.