Love for our neighbor and love for one another are different. Jesus gave us a new command in today’s Gospel. First: “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” And he continued: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
Jesus gave a new commandment to love one another as he loved us. The Old Testament law required a person to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This was even understood to include a person’s enemies. Jesus reiterated the law when one of the Pharisees who was a scholar of the law asked him “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
“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. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Now Jesus is taking this love one step further. This is a new teaching that is different from just loving our neighbor. Love for one another is deeper and more demanding than love for a neighbor that we may know or possibly even just tolerate. Love for one another is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. It was important to Jesus that people know who are his followers. He continued “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The early church followed Jesus’ commandment to love one another. At the end of the second century Tertuallian wrote that the people said “See how they love one another”. The world knew that they were Christians because they showed their love for one another by their actions.
So how do we define love for one another? Jesus defines it in the next statement “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Loving one another as Jesus loves us is quite a stretch for us. Jesus loved us so much that he willing died to bring salvation to all people for all generations. That kind of love is far beyond what we are capable of giving; and yet Jesus told us to love others as he loved us. We must follow Jesus’ example to love to the best of our ability and ask for his forgiveness when we fail.
We love others through our actions: The moment of kindness to the elderly person struggling to get groceries out of their cart onto the checkout station. The times when we speak out when someone puts another person down for the way they dress or their culture or their religion. When we volunteer to help build a house in another country for someone who is unable to afford a house. When we spend some time in prayer for those we love, for those we can’t stand and even for those we hate.
Another action that we show our love is through the support we provide through the Annual Catholic Appeal. Sixty-one ministries of the Archdiocese are funded by the Annual Catholic Appeal. Some of these ministries are: the seminarians who are preparing to become priests for our archdiocese, meals for the homeless, medical care for our retired priests, nuns, religious brothers and sisters who have served the church for so many years and catholic schools for our children. Criminal Justice programs, including jail and prison ministries, are supported as well as Deacon programs and formation, cultural and ethnic ministries and youth programs.
This past week everyone should have received letters from Archbishop Sartain and Father Jay asking us to support the Annual Catholic Appeal. The Appeal provides the financial support needed for over sixty-one ministries in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
We have a parish goal of $28,943 for our share of the Annual Catholic Appeal in the Seattle Archdiocese that supports the Catholic church in Western Washington. Any amount over this goal is returned to the Holy Cross to help fund our parish ministries. It is critical that each person contributes so we can reach our goal. If we could give one dollar a day, that would be $365 each. If you are able, please increase your donation this year to help us support the ministries of the church.
If you completed the pledge card you received in the mail and brought it with you, thank you. Otherwise, please complete a pledge card that the ushers have passed out today.
Jesus made our works of charity for others the defining characteristic that makes us different from others; that all people will notice. There are many saints throughout history who lived their lives serving others. When we think of people from our day who fit this description, we immediately think of Mother Theresa. She gave her live to selfless love for the abandoned, the sick, the orphaned and the dying. Her kindness and non-judgmental attitude toward others showed her for others. The whole world knew that she was a Christian by her actions. We will probably not go to another part of the world to serve as Mother Theresa did but we must serve where we live.
Jesus gave us a new commandment to love one another as he loved us. He said “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Does the world know that we are Christians? Do we show our love for others by our actions? Do we love one another as Christ loved us?
Let’s take a moment to complete the pledge card that the ushers passed out today. Thank you for your prayerful support of the Annual Catholic Appeal through our prayers, our acts of kindness and our gifts from what God has given us.