(John 13: 1, 31-33, 34-35) For those us in northern climes, there’s something irresistible – almost magical – about the newness of spring. Practically overnight our winter landscape sheds its shabby brown attire and bright green shoots begin to erupt from just below the surface. What would have seemed impossible the day before begins to take place, and before our very eyes, the earth is transformed. This natural phenomenon reminds us that our human existence is much the same – though we wear a cloak of mortality, the promise of new life lies just beneath. In the Resurrection, Jesus makes “all things new” (Rev 21:5).
It may seem odd then, as we near the end of the Easter season, to return once again in the Scriptures to the Last Supper, with Jesus preparing to depart from the world. With all this talk of newness and life, why must we contemplate death? First, because Jesus made death the passage to life, the two are intricately connected. There’s no other way to reach heaven than to leave this life, our bodies becoming the “seed” that must go down into the earth. But what’s more important than even physical death is death to self, our Lord’s very definition of love. Recall Christ’s parting words to His disciples, words that He also speaks to each of us. He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another…as I have loved you…also love one another” (Jn 13: 34). Jesus sums up all the commandments and His entire ministry – in fact, His whole life – with these words. Everything comes down to love.
He goes on to say that love is the hallmark of the Christian life, its distinguishing characteristic: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). We are meant to be walking billboards for the faith! This is why it’s essential to reflect on these words before moving on into Ordinary time. The glory and transformation of Easter isn’t supposed to stop at the end of the season – we must carry it with us into our lives each and every day! What’s more, that new life Christ offered to us on Easter morning is extended to us for all eternity…if only we live as His “little children,” with childlike faith, with simplicity and selfless love.
- Kelley Holy