Gospel: John 13: 31-35
Today’s Gospel is taken from the account of the Last Supper. It is sometimes called the Last Discourse and takes up 4 chapters of John’s Gospel. We can’t know for sure whether Jesus did save all these important sayings up for the last meal - it does not seem very likely. It is more likely that John put them all together - just before Jesus’ Passion and Death - to emphasise their great importance. These 4 chapters are Jesus’ Last Will and Testament - His last words before living them out in His death - and His resurrection.
Jesus has just washed His disciples’ feet and broken bread with them when Judas goes out - marking the beginning of the end of Jesus’ earthly life.
Seeing the inevitability of it all, Jesus could have given the disciples precise instructions as to what to do after His death. Instead, He gives them a testimony of faith, hope and, especially, of love. He does not suggest that any of this will be easy - His own suffering and death show the cost of such virtues - but He promises that they will not be overcome.
Today’s re-statement of the “New Commandment” is another of those phrases that we hear so often that we stop listening to it.
Perhaps a few moments reflection on where it was said - and when - and why - might help us to receive it with a new urgency.
Here is relatively young man - with everything to live for - facing a hideous death. He is surrounded by people who have followed Him with such high hopes - such great enthusiasm - and He knows that within hours their world will have collapsed around their ears.
He knows that, even with the coming of the Spirit, they will face times of great trial and difficulty.
His legacy and greatest gift to them is love - symbolised by His washing their feet and breaking bread with them.
It is by this love, one for another, that people will know that they are His disciples - disciples He will later claim as His friends.
What does it mean for me?
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