Scripture Readings: Exodus 12:1–14 | Psalm 116:1–2, 12–19 | 1 Corinthians 11:23–26 | John 13:1–17, 31b–35
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:8, 34-35).
On this night, Jesus our Saviour shared a sacred meal with His disciples… inviting them not simply into His friendship, but into His own blessed life… the life He shared with His heavenly Father from before the beginning of time.
On this night, Jesus our Master washed the feet of His servants… showing them up close what His new life looks like: humility… vulnerability… kindness… love.
On this night, Jesus our King gave us a new commandment: that we should love one another just as He loved us… spelling out for us once and for all the core of what it means to share in His Kingdom.
“Just as I have loved you” Christ says, “so you should love one another.”
Not just try to play nice… but strive to put His own love for us all into practice.
Tragically, many today seem not too concerned with keeping this ‘new’ commandment.
Instead, caught up in our own concerns, we avoid and ignore one another…
Instead, in fear, and envy, and prejudice, we turn on one another…
Instead, we search for all sorts of ways to excuse our unwillingness to serve and be served… to care and be cared for… to forgive and to be forgiven… to love and to be loved.
And yet Christ’s commandment still stands:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35).
How are you and I today to obey our Lord’s commandment?
Well, we can only share the love of Jesus if we have received the love of Jesus.
Christ is not asking us to bring something to the table… but first to be fed by Him… answering our Lord’s invitation to come and share in what He alone can give.
The holy love of God is not something we can simply conjure up within ourselves… it is His gift to us. A gift that grows in us.
And we can only continue to share the love of Jesus if we continue to receive the love of Jesus… like a branch can only bear fruit when it remains united to the vine.
Ongoing communion with God in Jesus Christ is the fount from which all of our life must flow.
What happened in us yesterday, a year… ten years… thirty years… fifty years ago has brought us to this present moment hear and now: to Christ’s Table where He offers His life and His love… to you, and to us all… again and again and again.
We must keep coming to Him together if we are to have any hope of sharing His love together.
And this is the only hope Christ Jesus our Lord gives to us that the rest of the world will come to see us as His own… and so come to know the love of Jesus: if His disciples will continue receiving and sharing His love with one another.
There are so many factors behind the current challenges that the Church and Christians are facing today. And there are many choices ahead of us as a community: many possibilities, which we might find humbling… and hard… exposing our own vulnerabilities… and fears… and calling us to walk uncomfortable and unfamiliar roads.
What Jesus our Lord gives to us today is not a silver bullet to avoid suffering, but this commandment… the way forward we must take up and practice if we are to follow Him:
We must receive His love… as undeserving of it as we may be… not just once, but again and again… His love sustains our life.
And we must offer this love to one another… again and again and again… as undeserving as we may feel they may be… His love shared through us sustains their life as well.
And we know this “one another” means more than just those of us sitting here in this room… those we find easy to love… those we already know… those we trust will love us in return.
Our Master Jesus calls us to love all of those who have been given a place at His table… who, like us, only have a place at His table because of what He has done for us all… NOT because we are good. Or interesting. Or healthy. Or friendly. Or wise. Or anything other than loved by Jesus.
We must love one another freely, just as Jesus our Saviour has first loved us.
That’s when, He tells us, the world will come to know that we share in His blessed life.
That’s when we will be more than a religious people, but the new family of God.
When through His Holy Spirit at work in us we receive and share His love… again and again and again…
When we allow ourselves to be cared for by our sisters and brothers, and care for them as well…
When we lay down our lives for one another, as He first laid down His own life for us…
That’s when we and the world will know that we are Christ’s own… when His love is growing deeper and wider and stronger in and between us.
On this night, Jesus Christ calls us to love one another just as He first loved us.
Let us receive and share together His life and holy love. Amen.
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Rev. Rob serves as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke's Gondola Point, and as the School Chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School