The Old New Pattern — Thursday After Epiphany

In his first letter to his brothers and sisters in Christ, St. John says that the commandment he writes to them is not new, and yet new. (1 John 2) The commandment he is referring had been given to them years before, by Jesus Christ at His Last Supper. He told His disciples, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)  Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love from Christ.

Once when Jesus’ opponents were trying to trip Him up they asked Him what was the greatest commandment. He answered, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.”  Then He added, “The second (commandment) is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22) Or, as St. Paul would later put it, “Love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Rom 13:10) Love sums up the moral law, and we know how to love through Christ.

It is intuitive for people to understand that we should do good and avoid evil, that we should love good and hate what is evil. Yet that does not mean that everyone agrees as to how we should live this out. Often we see the truths which Christians present in love angrily dismissed by the world as hate. (Frequently the throwing of this charge allows people to dismiss opposing viewpoints without ever giving them serious thought.) Even those in a post-Christian secular culture will agree that somehow “love is the answer,” but how exactly are we to love one another?

Jesus shows us how to love.  He says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We can learn from His example especially here, as we witness His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension in the Mass, but we can also learn from the entire life He lived.

Sometimes it can be hard understand example, or difficult to relate Jesus’ life to the particulars of our own. To help us He gives us the example of His saints, through whom He has continued to live His one, salvific way of life through thousands of different human expressions. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus; He was anointed to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to restore sight to the blind, to free the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Today this Scripture passage is still being fulfilled by Him through the lives of His saints.

“The love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.”  So let us learn what love is through the example of Jesus and His saints, for love sums up the law, and we know how to love through Christ.


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