Can you imagine a world in which we treat everyone the way we want to be treated? Many are already striving to put this “golden rule” into practice and we recognise it when we see people being respectful, polite, generous, and kind. If more people were intentional in living out this rule, the world would be drastically changed for the better.
However, the golden rule is not unique to Christianity. Other religions embrace this teaching: Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism, to name a few. Jesus does not dismiss this rule for he summarised the law and the prophets in the double command: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” (Mt 22:37-40). Nevertheless, living the golden rule is not enough for a disciple of Jesus: “if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” (Mt 5:46-47) Disciples of Jesus are called to love in a new way.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives a new commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you”. And how does Jesus love us? There are many ways, but I would like to point out four.
1. Jesus is the first to love: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (Jn 15:16) and “We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19).
2. Jesus loves gently and tenderly: “how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings.” (Mt 23:37) and “Jesus looking at him, loved him” (Mk 10:21).
3. Jesus loves humbly: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt 11:29) and “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13:13-14).
4. Jesus loves while we were still sinners: “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rm 5:8) and “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34).
Could you imagine a world in which we love as Jesus loved us? This world would be set on fire.
Fr Marion Nguyen osb
Abbot of St. Martin Abbey Lacey, Washington