John 13:31–33a, 34–35
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the
Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has
been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify
him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look
for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, where I am going, you
cannot come." I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I
have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know
that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
These verses are part of our Lord’s last
discourse to his apostles at the last supper. They were said after Judas left
the supper room to seek the chief priests and Pharisees to arrange for the
betrayal of his master.
When Judas has left, Jesus speaks to the
other eleven apostles. He sees his glorification, which actually occurred when
he was raised by the Father from the dead, as already present. It has actually
begun with the betrayal by Judas. The passion and death by crucifixion, which
were so soon to come, were the final step in his human life of perfect
obedience to his Father.
He uses the title Son of Man to stress the reality
of his human nature for it was in his human nature that he gave perfect
obedience to God, and it was in his human nature that he was glorified in the
God is glorified by Christ’s perfect
subjection in all things to him, and also by the raising of all mankind to
sonship with God through Christ, who represents all human beings. Thus, he
gives them a new commandment, charity, which was also commanded in the Old
Testament but it was restricted to fellow Jews. Now, the charity commanded by
Christ has to extend to all mankind. It must be like the real love that Christ
himself had. One must therefore be ready to go as far as laying down one’s life
for one’s fellowmen.
Jesus suggests that love for one another
first, and then for all men is the proof of the true Christian. “See how these
Christians love one another” was a remark passed concerning the early
Christians. And their love for their non-Christian brothers and sisters was
proved by the hardships, and even death, endured by the apostles and their
followers in order to bring the Gospel of Christ, the knowledge of their
eternal destiny, to Jew and Gentile.
We are disciples and follower of Christ,
but how many of us would pass the test that Christ himself lays down for
deciding who are his true followers? The word “charity” has a restricted
meaning nowadays. It signifies giving an alms, a gift of money to a needy
person. This is but a very small part of the true charity. Charity is the true
love of neighbour which Christ made the distinguishing mark of the true
Christian. He who truly loves his neighbour must be interested first and
foremost in those things which concern that neighbour’s most important purpose
in life, his eternal salvation.
It is never too late to be a true
Christian. Begin today to take a true Christian interest in the spiritual fate
of your family and neighours. Where words have already failed perhaps try
prayer and example. The grace of God will cooperate with your sincere and
charitable effort. Amen.