As Jesus said in the Gospel of John (John 13:34-35) “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”.
As humans, of course, each time we move around places visiting family and friends there have been goodbyes. And that’s never easy you know, no matter how excited we might be about what comes next.
Love and gratitude are mostly clouded by grief and sometimes even feelings of disappointment or regret of goods left undone and opportunities missed.
Leave-taking is a difficult but a very real part of human life.
And it’s precisely difficult because of the love and investment we feel for those whose lives and stories have become interwoven with our own.
In our Gospel this past Sunday we hear him saying “I love you” to those who had played and would continue to play an essential role in his saving work.
And still, we have to remember that the love of Jesus for his friends and followers isn’t a greeting card sentiment, because his love is so inseparable from who he is and from his mission.
This is why the act of washing of the feet of the disciples is really a perfect symbol of his self-giving love. Jesus is an example of exactly what he expects of each of us.
After three years of public ministry, three years of teaching and apprenticing his disciples, Jesus concluded his message with one encounter which, at least for one early Christian community, became the hallmark of all discipleship.
For on the night before he died, while sharing a meal with his disciples, he wrapped a towel around himself and, as the story says, “he started to wash the feet of his disciples.” He didn’t even bother lecture them on what it means to be his disciple. He didn’t even give them a list of dos and don’ts to memorize and spit back at him.
Rather, he invited them to an encounter with a deep mystery, He taught his disciples a “dance” (“I have set you an example”) and then he gave them an instruction to follow his steps (“that you also should do as I have done to you.”).
While we hear Jesus saying to the disciples (and to us!) that we are to love one another, he is actually telling us to love others with his love that’s a love that embodies mercy and gives life.
In other to help us understand the power of this love of Jesus more fully, our liturgy on past Sunday gave us a vision of a “new heaven and a new earth,” meaning what is possible for us here and now if we are willing to live out the mandate of Jesus to love others to love all with his love: every tear will be wiped away according to the Second Reading from (Revelation 21:1-5a), “and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away”.
The invitation for us is clear: so we are to love others as Jesus has loved us, in both dynamic and life-giving ways. We should however, recognize that what Jesus is calling us to is a new way of life and a new way of loving that is worthy of the “new Jerusalem.” The excellent gift in this is that when we love others, there is no leave-taking, because, in the end, love cannot ignore, divide, or exclude.
Have you ever experienced the love of another person and the love of God in and through the actions of another person?
So, Christ Jesus commands us to love as he did, not putting reputation, nor wealth, nor anything whatever before the love of our brothers and sisters. The Savior asked us to practice this love which transcends the law as the foundation of true devotion to God.