GOD's NEW COMMANDMENT
We know that God has always called us to love - and so in what way is Jesus' commandment that he refers to today, new? We last saw this reading on Maundy Thursday in Holy Week, as we began our journey through the events of Jesus' Passion. In fact, the name 'Maundy' comes from this passage: it relates to 'mandate' - a new mandate I give to you. So it is 'new commandment Thursday' - a very important part of what that evening is about. Remember the context. Jesus is about to be betrayed by Judas, someone he loves. In addition, he shows the disciples the extent of his love for all of them: he takes the place of a servant and gets down on his knees, and washes their feet. He tells them to do likewise. He will soon leave that place for the Garden of Gethsemane, and weep for all that is to come. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had reminded the disciples that they were to love one another as they loved themselves. That of course implies something about our own self-acceptance and self-care that is good to be reminded of: if we don't know how to embrace ourselves, how can we be able to really love others? But Jesus takes this command and turns it into a higher one. We are called now to love one another as Jesus has loved us. Jesus' love for us made him the servant of all; Jesus' love for us took him to the cross. That is how the new commandment we read about today is so wonderfully powerfully and inspiring. It demands a greater love that we have yet shown. We cannot love others in that way, unless we first know how to receive God's amazing love for ourselves.