Jesus said to his disciples:
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15: 12-14
I often struggle with the above simple command from John’s gospel. What does it mean for me today to love one another and do as Jesus did, i.e., lay down his life for his friends?
I like to think that what I am living for today is also what I am dying for today. That came across very clear to me the other day when I saw the movie: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street which is the story of how Joan Ganz Cooney talked Jim Henson of the Muppet’s fame into doing a Public TV series attempting to teach children basic communication skills of reading and numbers. Reluctant at first, Jim and the people involved reflected on their endeavors years later and realized that while they started out to teach the children, it was the children who taught them and that working 15-hour days was not work, but a joy.
Maybe it means I don’t have to call the scavenger service that wakes me up at 5:00 am emptying the trash containers right outside my bedroom window? Maybe instead, I could see this intrusion to my sleep as an opportunity to say thanks for the young person who got up much earlier this morning just to make my world a little safer and healthier.
Maybe it means I can listen intently to that person who just seems to go on and on and on and on, insisting that what they have to say demands more time than the rest of those gathered to discuss an idea or issue?
Maybe it means I have to read some goofy reflection like this one, just because I get to be part of a community that is much bigger than my narrow view of “the saved” or “the righteous”?
Thank you, Jesus, for all these reminders to love—Love especially those individuals who initially give rise to resentments in me, but more often than not offer just what I need today.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.