THE NEW COMMANDMENT OF LOVE: The context of the Gospel is the Last Supper in John 13. John describes Jesus in this chapter as having loved his disciples “to the end” (John 13:1). There is no greater love than a man dying for his friends (cf. John 15:13). William Barclay, commenting on John 13:31-33, says that in any warfare, the greatest glory goes to the warriors who fell, not the survivors, because the dead made the greatest sacrifice. He adds that obedience is the only way a man shows that he loves, admires and trusts a leader (The Gospel of John, Vol 2, 148). This comment helps us understand today’s Gospel. Judas’ exit shows his final decision to have Jesus killed. Jesus decidedly did nothing to avert the looming catastrophe because it was the will of the Father that he died on the cross. Jesus’ acceptance to die on the cross was the greatest way he manifested his love for humanity. His act was great glorification. His act of obedience was also great glorification of the Father. There was none before Jesus who exhibited this type of vicarious suffering and death. It was therefore a new commandment of love. The type of love Jesus is asking from us for others is not eros (sexual love) because this is natural. It comes instinctively whether willed or not. It is equally not storge or philia (familial or friendly love) because it is natural that we love our parents, siblings, friends and relations, since they show affection to us. The love Jesus is asking for is agape (Christian love). This type requires our intellect and will because it is not natural. Agape is also for enemies and those repulsive to us. Jesus died for his enemies (Rom 5:8-10).
O Jesus, the command to love our enemies and those repulsive to us is very demanding. Give us the grace to love as you love. Amen.