Aspiring to a love well-lived
By Anne Marie Richardson
John 13 starts, “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” He then proceeded to demonstrate His love for them by the humble act of washing their feet, from Peter to Judas, as He encouraged them to do the same for each other.
But as I read this week’s gospel passage, I found myself asking – did Judas love Jesus? I can speculate; we all can speculate as we consider his subsequent deliberate actions and their results. That new commandment was clear, “…love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
Judas had wanted to be a disciple, but the powerful lure of the worldly life had proven too much for him. How else can we explain his decision to step out of that strong embrace of love to deliberately follow his chosen path?
Jesus still spoke to the depth of his soul when He said, “My little children I shall not be with you much longer.” In that statement, Jesus let him know that He knew of his intent; He was silently challenging him to turn around and return the love that was being offered him – but Judas, as destined, moved steadfastly on with his choice.
At the same time, Jesus knew that the time of His glorification was fast approaching. Strange enough, this Judas was to be the instrument through whom this coming singular act of glorification was initiated.
How was love repaid? What kind of love was it that allowed Judas to betray his Master who had loved him enough to lower Himself to wash his feet – an act from Master to follower that was unheard of in those times?
Didn’t Judas hear the Lord say to them:
“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.”
Was this the way to repay his Master!
We are all faced with a variety of choices in our lives, and it is those choices that determine our future, “If you choose, you can keep the commandments;… Before everyone are life and death, whichever they choose will be given them” (Sir 15:15–17).
At this time, we can all question our response to this new commandment of love – does our life reflect the choice to “…love one another. As I have loved you …,” with which we are challenged? Are we using or abusing any of those four stages of love as identified by the writer, Natasha Babwah-Tim Kee (CN, April 17)?
Today’s gospel passage should give us pause and make us consider the state of our own relationships with those within our individual sphere. Do we possess that love that shows us as a disciple of the Master, or are we wrapped in a form of self-serving or self-destructive ‘love’ that the world offers as a means to success in so many domains?
Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and the other disciples were examples of lives of love well-lived as they journeyed on and selflessly honoured the example of their Master whose aim it was then and now “to make all things new” (Rev 21: 5a).
Lord, we open our hearts to You as we ask for the grace to do as You do and love even a fraction of Your love so that You would be glorified in and through us. Amen.
The gospel meditations for May are by Anne Marie Richardson, a retired educator, and a parishioner of the Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster.