FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER: JOHN 13:34-35
In His farewell address, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, love one another.” The world should be able to identify the true disciples of Jesus by their love for one another. The word “love” sometimes can lead us to misunderstandings. Very often, we use the word love mainly to indicate deep affection, emotional attraction, and good feelings. The word “love” that is used by St. John in this gospel passage is agape, a love that needs total commitment and trust. It implies reaching out to others with caring and merciful attitudes for their well-being without expecting any favors in return.
St. Mother Teresa is a good example for us. One day, Mother Theresa and her sisters were walking in the slum city of Calcutta. They saw a Hindu man lying by the roadside and struggling with death. They took him into their home for the dying and cleaned his wounds, put clean clothes on him, gave him food, and took care of his needs. After a few days, he started to talk and he asked mother, “Mother, who is your God? Even though my family left me in the slum, who gave you the inspiration to take care of me?” There was a crucifix in the room; mother showed it to him and said, “The crucified Lord showed me.” He said to mother, “I really experienced God’s love from you.”
We all are called to love others in ordinary, simple, and meaningful ways. We should love others by responding to their everyday needs with love and compassion. We should love others by comforting and protecting those, who have experienced losses and sufferings. We should love others by serving them in every possible way, no matter how small, seeing the face of Jesus in them. We should love others by forgiving, rather than condemning, and by challenging, rather than ignoring. We should love others by making sacrifices for them.
Let me share with you a meaningful story about real love: A man married a beautiful girl, and he loved her very much. She developed a skin disease and slowly, she started to lose her beauty. One day, her husband went on a business tour. Upon returning, he met with an accident and lost his eyesight. However, their married life continued as usual. As days passed, she gradually lost her beauty. Her blind husband did not know this, but there was not any difference in their married life, and they loved each other. One day, she died, and her death brought him great sorrow.
His friend asked him, “Now, how will you be able to walk all alone? All these days, your wife used to help you.” He replied, “I am not blind. I was acting because if she knew I could see her skin condition; it would have painful for her more than her disease. I did not love her for her beauty alone, but I fell in love with her caring and loving nature. Therefore, I pretended to be blind. I only wanted to keep her happy.”
The moral message of this story is this: When we truly love someone, we should go to any extent to keep our loved ones happy. Sometimes, it is good for us to act blind, close our eyes and ears at certain times, and ignore others’ shortcomings in order to be happy. External beauty can fade at any time, but one’s heart and soul will always be the same. Let us love the person with respect as they are and look at the person’s heart instead of outside beauty.
To love is to see others with the eyes of Christ and make Christ present in our world. It is a time for us to live our lives to the fullest by loving one another and sharing Christ’s peace, tenderness, and mercy. Let us pray, especially for the gifts of love, peace, and unity in our homes and communities!