“I Want to See.”
By Blind Beggar Bart

A New Commandment

Stained window at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Scranton PADear Bart,
The last email sender talked about something he/she heard from a sermon at mass, so I was inspired to listen more intently when attending mass. And voila! Two weekends ago, I heard something interesting that I did not realize before! Or maybe I just had not really paid attention to the exact words of these all too familiar gospel verses. But what else is new? Don’t we often just gloss over a lot of meaningful things in our lives? The gospel at mass partly read, “…I will 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 13:33-35). And in his homily the priest asked what was new about this commandment. I wondered if it was really new since it sounded the same as how the 10 commandments are usually summed up – loving God foremost and loving your neighbor as yourself. Then the priest said that it is new because of the fact that Jesus was asking his disciples to love one another in the same way as he had loved them, to love in the same way as he had shown love, more than just loving one's self! I honestly don’t remember what else the priest said after that. I guess I was so enthralled by the revelation so much so that that was all I remembered. I know the gospel had shown a lot of examples of how Jesus had shown his love. But what do you think makes his love different from the “love your neighbor as yourself” we all know? – Name Undisclosed, 5/14/2010.

Dear “Name Undisclosed,”
I’m sure if you ask your question to different people, you would get different answers. I have a feeling though that the answers that would satisfy you the most would have some similarity to mine, I hope. To answer your question we have to find out first Jesus’ understanding of the commandment of loving one’s neighbor. We find this in his parable of the Good Samaritan. In the parable, the one who acted as the real neighbor to the Jew victimized by robbers was a Samaritan – from a people at odds with the Jews, avoided and looked down upon by them because of religious differences. Through his parable Jesus corrects the people of his time of their myopic interpretation of the command to love one’s neighbor. As told in the gospels, people were scandalized over Jesus’ display of love for those who were sick (like the lepers), for the prostitutes and tax collectors, for Samaritans and other outcasts of Jewish society. The message of this parable is expounded in Luke’s gospel, Lk 6:27-38. Jesus gives a new meaning to the age-old command of loving one's neighbor by extending it to loving the outcast, the despised, and even your enemies!

Today, we still tend to have a myopic understanding of the command to love our neighbor, hindering us to follow Jesus’ new commandment of loving as he loves us, sinners as we are. We love back only those who love us, armed with excuses for doing so: “I could only love as much as I have been loved,” “I’m only human,” “We need to fight back,” “There must be justice,” “People need to learn,” etc. What we always forget is that, because of Jesus’ saving act and the Holy Spirit in us, we have been assured of God’ the Father's most fulfilling love as demonstrated by His only Son Jesus, consequently enabling us to love others too as they are, way beyond our human limitations. We only have to ask for the grace and have faith!

If you would like to email me and hopefully find my response in this column, please send it to admin@cafepearsall.com (for now) addressed to me, or go to Contact Us of this website. Links to previous articles are found below. –BBB, 5/17/2010.

[Editor's Note: The same gospel passage was read on 4/24/2016.]

Previous Posts:
The Scriptures are Fulfilled (1/23/2016)
A Family Prayer in the Year of Mercy (1/10/2016)
Life's Too Short (8/14/2015)
The Redundancy in Unconditional Love (3/15/2015)
Loving Submission (12/28/2014)
Are We Mere Spectators? (4/16/2014)
My Blindness (4/13/2014)
Spiritual Blindness (4/2/2014)
God Loves You! (3/16/2014)
That All May Be One in Repentance (3/7/2014)
No one Is, So Why Be Perfect? (3/2/2014)
Mature Love, (2/5/2014)
Let It Be Done According to Your Word: The Vanity of the Plans We Make (12/9/2013)
Our Struggles Within (8/9/2011)
Lovingly Correcting Others (6/18/2010)
Our Uncontrollable Lives (4/11/2010)
The Ultimate Question (4/4/2010)