Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) 

In this statement from the Gospel of John (13:31-33a, 34-35), Jesus tells us who he is by the fact that he gives us a new commandment. Only God can issue a commandment, such as God did when he gave Moses the law at Mount Sinai. This new commandment comes about through the Son giving the Father glory and, by the Son giving the Father glory, the Father will glorify the Son. “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” (John 13:32) We also are given a share in the glorification of the Father and the Son through the new life of baptism. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) If we have love for one another, we give glory to God by the example of our lives. We then witness to that love by the reflection of that love in our lives.  

These are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples on the night before he suffered and died on the cross. Jesus is gracious for he has been benevolent to us through pouring out his life on the cross. Jesus has been merciful for he has been compassionate and tender to all offenders. Jesus has been great in kindness for he has called us friends for he has loved us.
How then is this new commandment — to love one another as the Lord has loved us — lived out in a practical way in our lives? We can look to the psalm for this Sunday for guidance: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and great in kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.” (Psalm 145:8-9) The psalm tells us who the Lord is by what the Lord does. The psalm tells us who we are when we live out this new commandment Jesus has given us. If we are to love as Jesus loves, we then are called to be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, great in kindness and compassionate in all our works as our Lord Jesus Christ.   

The definition to be merciful is to be compassionate, tender, to be disposed toward pity for offenders, to be forgiving. Compassion is necessary for the Christian. Does our compassion reflect the compassionate heart of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which was poured out for us all on the cross? The tender mercy of God is seen in the cross because God, through his son, is disposed toward having pity for the offender. Our hearts are to be filled with pity for the offender and the sinner as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is filled with pity.

To be gracious means to be courteous, kind and pleasant. We know that God is courteous because God is benevolent, for Jesus reveals who God is for us. So, we ask ourselves, are we courteous to others? God’s benevolence is a sign of God’s generosity. Are we benevolent toward others by being generous of heart? God is kind because God is merciful and forgiving; we see that mercy and forgiveness poured out on the cross. Are we kind, are we tenderhearted and tolerant of others or are we hardhearted and intolerant of others?

Jesus reveals himself in Sunday’s Gospel as the Son of Man, (John 13:32) the Son of Man is the just judge. We are to be just as Jesus is just. Our gracious God is pleasant. These words that God inspired are the sign of a pleasant God. Do the words we speak reveal a pleasant demeanor? Are our words inspired by the Gospels or are our words simply gossip which in no way can be of God. Because the Lord has given us a new commandment to love as God loves, our words should be the words of the Gospels which are life-giving. When our words are not life-giving then they most likely are words which are based in gossip. The words that come from gossip destroy life.

Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the good news of the Gospel message throughout the Mediterra¬≠nean region. They provided an example of kingdom living by Gospel simplicity. Gospel simplicity is faithfully lived out by living faithfully in Jesus’ new commandment which he gave his disciples, to love as Jesus loves. “They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in faith saying, it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter God’s kingdom” (Acts:14:21-27) 

We are not to become discouraged by difficulties but lead others in faith and hope as Paul and Barnabas had called members of the communities they founded to do. The kingdom is made present by our example of Jesus’ presence in our lives. That new kingdom can be seen today as we prepare for its fullness when Christ comes in the fullness of his glory. “I John saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and former earth had passed away.” (Rev. 21:1-5) Jesus’ new commandment lived out in us brings about God’s kingdom.