Throughout his life Jesus gave us a very clear message. When asked about the greatest commandment, he quickly responded that it is loving God and loving your neighbor. If we look at his life, we see that everything he did was just an expression of this love. St John tells us that that was the reason why he came to the world in the first place: “God so loved the world, that he gave us his only Son”. Then he lived his life by helping us to understand what this love really is. He taught those who needed his teaching. He approached people who needed his presence most. Rather than excluding sinners or bad people, he went up to them and opened for them an opportunity for a better life. He never denied forgiveness to those who needed it, irrespective of whether they deserved it or not. He gave his time, his energy, his full self. This he did until the very end when, in an atmosphere of immense love during the last supper, as St John tells us, he gave us his body and blood. This he repeated on the following day, Friday, from the cross.
All this is very important because, just before he died, he gave us what he called “a new commandment”. His parting words to his friends were, “love one another as I have loved you”. This is what we remember every time we celebrate Eucharist. The words “do this in memory of me” are an invitation for us to do the same thing that he did, to live the same kind of life that he lived. The same message is given to us after he washed the disciples’ feet: to serve each other, even if the “other” is Judas the traitor or Peter the one who would deny him.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” he tells us in today’s gospel. What Jesus is saying here is not burdening us with another duty. Rather, it is a reminder that, if we love him, then keeping his commandments, namely loving our God and our neighbor, will become our way of life. The disciple is the one who walks on his master’s footsteps. And the Christian is the one who lives the life Jesus lived. Of course, we are well aware that none of us is Jesus Christ! We all have our weaknesses. Every so often we all do what we know is not right. We all know that we find it difficult to forgive those who harm us; we cannot love fully as Jesus did. The good news is that he knows this too! That’s why he promised to be with us always, to never abandon us, to not leave us “orphans”. He knows we need his help to be able to live as good Christians. And today he promises to give us his own Spirit to be with us, to guide us, to give us strength, to constantly be on our side.
As we continue on our Easter journey, we start preparing ourselves for the feast of Pentecost, the celebration of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Perhaps it would be a good idea if, during this week, we find some quiet time to look a bit at our lives and see how we are living our lives as followers of Christ. Am I loving everybody as Jesus loves them? Have I truly forgiven those who wronged me in any way? Most probably I am going to find that I am not 100% there yet. I need help. And help is just a prayer away. The Easter message tells us that He is stronger than any of our weaknesses. It is a message that gives us what we need to keep going on our journey