“AS I” — True Measure of Authentic Love
Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the “Last Supper Discourse” of Jesus in John’s Gospel; it extends for five full chapters (13-17). We hear Jesus saying: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you should also love one another.”
In this same Last Supper message, we hear Jesus’ words: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). In the first scene of Jesus’ final meal, he shows his loving service by washing his disciples’ feet (Jn 13:1-15).
While meditating upon Jesus’ precious words and actions at the Last Supper, two passages seem to leap off the page. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, you must also love one another” (Jn 13:34, cf. 15:12). After washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus says: “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 13:14-15).
Both passages form a unity. Jesus gives his disciples the commandment of love; then he himself puts it into practice by washing his disciples’ feet. He challenges them to do the same. Notice the parallel words: as I. Indeed, Jesus asserts that the model, criterion, and measure of fraternal love is none other than his own person.
How do we Christians know if our love is authentic? We measure our deeds against the model exemplified in Jesus’ own life. Is our service genuine? We compare ourselves to our Master, who said: “The Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45). Friends, those very simple words “as I” (only three letters of the alphabet) must guide our daily decisions and actions. How eminently clear! How difficult and challenging!
There are numerous New Testament examples of how this “as I” love commandment is to be lived out. We must readily forgive our neighbor’s faults; yes, not only seven times, but seventy-seven times (Mt 18:22). Do we quickly judge and condemn others? Jesus spoke these words to the woman caught in adultery: “Has no one condemned you? … Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (Jn 8:10-11). Do we have time to pray and listen to God’s voice? “After sending the crowds away, he went up into the hills by himself to pray” (Mt 14:23).
Jesus has said: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” (Lk 6:36). When Jesus saw the crowds, he said: “I have compassion for the people…” (Mt 15:32). Jesus is God’s compassion in person; we Christians are to be the same.
Friends, as we hear Jesus’ “as I” love commandment, we simply take time to meditate on the authenticity of our discipleship in imitating Jesus.
James H. Kroeger, MM
Prayer for 3rd Sunday
Help me, O God of love, to imitate
Your example and love my friends
and family fully.
Give me the courage to love myself
that I, like you, might love others.
Give me strength, like yours, to seek
the lonely and the lost.
And give me the grace to accept
the will of the Father in my life,
that I, like you, might spend myself
in your service.
Above all, Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom
to know when to speak or keep silent,
to act or to refrain from acting, to hang on or to let go.
When you commanded us to wash
each other’s feet as a sign
of our obedience to your law,
you called us to overcome our pride
and willingly serve others
as if we were serving, helping, and loving You.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.