A New Commandment, By Miranda Fitzpatrick, Fiat Ventures

Fifth Sunday of Easter

What is love? In our Gospel today Jesus compels us to love one another. This is the new commandment He gives us, “to love one another. As I have loved, so you also should love one another.” But what is love? Well, years ago a group of researchers asked the question “What does love mean?” to the most reliable and trusted source…who better to ask than a group of 4- to 8-year-olds. These are some of the kids’ answers:

Noelle (age 7) said, “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.”

Karl (age 5) said, “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on cologne and they go out and smell each other.”

Rebecca (age 8) said, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

These are goofy answers, they probably made you laugh. But would you even be able to come up with a coherent answer yourself? As Catholics, we believe that to love someone ultimately means to will the good of the other. Sometimes what is good for the other might also be what is good for you, but sometimes willing the good of the other means making a sacrifice, that is when it proves to be a little more difficult.

Jesus continues by saying, this is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. What do we call disciples of Jesus? Followers of Christ? Christians! This is what it means to be Christian. To love. And if we love right, they’ll be able to tell that we are Christians. My parents have a beautiful quote that hangs on their wall in the house I grew up in, it reads “live in such a way so that those who know you, but don’t know God, come to know God, because they know you.” It’s a little wordy and a fun twist of the words so read it again if you need to. When you have God in your life and you let Him shine through you, others will notice. They’ll see your joy, your peace … your love, and they will want what you have!

Now living this love is not always easy to do. I have always been convicted by this passage in Luke’s Gospel, it is in the 6th chapter. Luke writes “For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same” (Luke 6:32-33). Jesus has taken the old commandments, which there were 10 of, and boiled them down to just one commandment, the new commandment, and yet somehow it seems harder than when there were 10! Loving others is easy to do when they love you or when they do good to you, but it is harder to love those who don’t love you, or who wrong you, or hurt you. But this is what we are called to do as Christians and as Catholics.

My challenge to you for this week: Think about this new definition of love, “to will the good of the other.” What would this look like in your life? How can you love others in a way that they know you are a follower of Christ? Do you strive to love those who have wronged you? Is there anyone in your life that you need to offer forgiveness to?

Write this on a notecard and tape it to your bathroom mirror, read it while you brush your teeth.

Live in such a way so that those who know you, but don’t know God, come to know God, because they know you.

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