April 24, 2016 - The Key

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.”

John 13:31-35

Choosing which of this Sunday’s readings to highlight is a real challenge.  The second reading contains the extraordinarily beautiful words, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.  The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”

But the Gospel reading is as important as the second reading is beautiful.  In this, his farewell address before he is crucified, Jesus rejects the formulation of the new commandment found in the other three Gospels.  Instead of the Golden Rule: ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, Jesus exhorts us to love each other as he loves us.  Here’s an unpopular notion:  Jesus is not that warm and loving.  He is demanding, scolding, and if you’re a Pharisee or a Canaanite, even unfair.  If he was extraordinarily loving it was in his willingness to die for us.  We hear that all the time as Christians – Jesus as Redeemer and Savior - but what does it mean?  Is Jesus just a good example? Is Jesus just a wonder-worker? Did Jesus have to die to satisfy an angry God?  This mysterious command holds the key to faith.