The new commandment
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - May 19, 2019 - 12:00am

It is the fifth Sunday of Easter and like last Sunday’s gospel reading we have another short gospel today, when our Lord Jesus calls for a new commandment which you can find in John 13:31-35. This is proof that, indeed, our Lord Jesus is the Son of God for he could give us a new commandment.

“31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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This conversation with our Lord Jesus Christ happens after he already revealed to his apostles that Judas Iscariot would betray him when they were having the Last Supper. This is why this gospel reading starts with “When he had gone out.” Thus we heard this gospel story during our Holy Week Triduum in Sacred Heart Church with Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, who asked the question “Did God order his only son Jesus Christ to die for us?” Indeed, this was a very good topic to discuss especially as it was already Holy Week.

But Fr. Manoling said that God did not order our Lord Jesus to die, but he only allowed “the free will” of man to continue and did not disrupt or stop the evil Pharisees and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate from crucifying his only begotten son and killing him, also because he knew that our Lord Jesus Christ would resurrect on the third day as he had foretold.

Thus after Judas had left, our Lord in today’s gospel told his disciples “34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus expected Judas to have loved the Lord, but when he left to report his presence to the Pharisees, Jesus knew that Judas did not love him as he expected Judas to do. Thus he talked about this new commandment after Judas had left the group in the upper room.

After teaching his disciples that loving one another is the key to keeping all the Ten Commandments that our Lord God gave to Moses in Mt. Sinai, we recall that when Jesus appeared to his disciples again in Lake Galilee, his purpose was to restore the primacy of St. Peter where Jesus re-commissioned Peter to “feed his sheep,” to show love and compassion and pastoral concern for those who were in need. Come now, you must have noticed that all his disciples, except for John the beloved, left our Lord during his passion and death on the cross….and Peter, as he prophesied, denied him three times.

But in his appearance in Lake Galilee, he restored St. Peter asking him whether he loved him three times, to which St. Peter answered “yes, I love you!” Today, we are taught in today’s gospel that 2,000 years after this event happened, loving one another is still as important as it was a long time ago. So in the end of the day, when all the Catholic doctrines of love have been debated, when all the traditions have been lived out, when all the hymns have been sung and the liturgies read, we are left with just one vital question: Have we learned to love on another?

Hence, when you go to Sunday Mass this morning and listen to today’ gospel teaching, consider it as the perfect complement to last week’s passage because it goes to the very heart of what it means for us to follow Jesus. So it is high time to ask the question to each and every of our readers: Have you learned to love our Lord Jesus with all your heart, your mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself? What do you say?

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