Like an early morning fog that later yields to the sunshine and uncovers what has been hidden, the event of the Passion, Death and Resurrection shows us the true glory of Jesus as the Son of God. There is no other event like it in the history of human life on planet earth. We note from the gospel scene that Jesus Himself declared it as such, and added that it is His glorification.
Judas had left the room with betrayal on his mind. But it freed Jesus from hesitation and I imagine He must have raised His voice a bit to say the great “Now!” Now the stage was set for the selfsame glory to come.
What this implies is that the agony in the garden, the arrest, the trial, the jail time, the rejection of Him before Pilate, the scourging, crowning with thorns and the crucifixion itself all amounted to “the Son of Man being glorified.” Certainly not the way we would describe glory. But then, God’s ways are not ours. The resurrection is the ultimate end of the process. But it was also a beginning. That is why we celebrate a ‘Triduum” of Liturgies, that is three days all components of one great Day. It is one methodical passage of Our Lord from agony to ecstasy.
So we return five weeks after the Last Supper event to note the importance of Our Lord’s “new commandment.” He announced it at that Supper. So He had the undivided attention of His now eleven closest friends.
Note also that Jesus did not speak of methods or plans. No long list of rules and procedures for the future. Just one powerful command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” So it becomes the distinctive hallmark of a Christian. It would be noticed later by pagan historians writing descriptions of the Church. It is meant to identify each of us.
“Did Christ have the credentials to make that command, that overarching demand” some outsiders might ask? The nearest crucifix is our answer. “Is it easy to obey?” they might coyly ask us. Our short answer is a definite “No!” And we know why. It’s because of sin. Sin in the world and in each of us, vestige of the damage done by our first parents. Each of us could name the sins, especially if they are our personal downfall. We might even add the fact that God has created some people who are custom designed to annoy us. All of it makes for a command that demands.
At this juncture it is always helpful to recall two facts. First, that we are not asked by God to like a whole lot of people as our choice of best friends. That number is limited to a precious few. Maybe even to one.
Secondly, we are not to let feelings interfere in our efforts. Feelings confuse the issue as is their habit. It’s a matter of decision, an act of our will. We decide to love others, to will their good, because Jesus said we have to do so.
If it’s any comfort, note that there were no Pharisees or Sadducees at the Last Supper table. Jesus had decided who would be there. Those others were His designated enemies. Yet His love would prompt Him to die on the cross for their sins also on Good Friday afternoon.
To live as Christ wants us to requires perseverance. That only comes from prayer and a close association with the saints, those canonized and those not. Here are the thoughts of the American poet Edwin Markham (d. 1940) on this matter:
“He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.”
God love you and give you His Easter peace.
Reading I: Acts 14: 21-27
Paul and Barnabas report to the Antioch community all the good things that the Lord had done with them on their first missionary journey.
Reading II: Revelation 21: 1-5a
John’s vision includes that of a new heaven and a new earth. God will end the old order marked by pain and death.
The Gospel: John 13: 31-33a, 34-35
God’s kingdom will be known by a people who will truly love one another.