DON’T LOSE YOUR IDENTITY
Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples. Very soon, he won’t be with them. Jesus speaks to them with special tenderness: «Little children, I shall be with you only a little longer». The community is small and fragile. It’s just been born. The disciples are like little children. What will become of them if they are left without the Teacher?
Jesus gives them a gift: «I give you a new commandment: love one another, just as I have loved you». If they love each other mutually with the love Jesus has loved them with, they won’t stop feeling him alive in their midst. The love they have received from Jesus will keep spreading among them.
That’s why Jesus adds: «It is by your love for one another that everyone will recognize you as my disciples». What will allow a community that calls itself Christian to be seen as really being from Jesus, won’t be the confession of a doctrine, or the observance of some rituals, or the following of a discipline, but the love lived out with Jesus’ spirit. In that love is their identity.
We live in a society where there has been imposed the «culture of exchange». Persons exchange objects, services and loans. Frequently they exchange feelings, bodies and even friendship. Eric Fromm ended up saying that «love is a marginal phenomenon in today’s society». A people capable of loving is an exception.
Probably this is an excessively pessimistic analysis, but it’s certain that in order to live out Christian love today, it’s necessary to resist the atmosphere that fills today’s society. It’s not possible to live out a love that is inspired by Jesus without distancing ourselves from the style of relationships and self-interested exchanges that frequently predominate among us.
If the Church «is getting watered-down» in the midst of today’s society, it’s not just because of the profound crisis of religious institutions. In the case of Christianity, it’s also because many times it’s not easy to see our communities as disciples of Jesus who distinguish themselves by their capacity of loving as he loved. We lack the Christian distinction.
We Christians have talked a lot about love. However we haven’t always made it clear or we haven’t dared to give it its true content that starts with the spirit and the concrete attitudes of Jesus. We still haven’t learned that he lived love as an active way of living and as a creator who brought to it an attitude of service and of struggle against everything that dehumanizes and that allows humans to suffer.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf