These days following the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb must have been challenging, yet curious, days for the apostles and the followers of Jesus. For forty days he would be with them until he ascends into heaven, and during this time we discover that during this time Jesus’ resurrection has inaugurated a new era in human history. John’s gospel this week-end, brief that it is, reports some of the things which Jesus said to his disciples during their meal on Holy Thursday. He has just announced that one of his disciples will betray him. We can only imagine the astonishment at that moment. John asks cautiously who would do this terrible thing. Jesus singles out Judas by handing him a morsel of bread and concludes by saying: "be quick about what you are to do." Only John realizes the import of all this, all the others seem to be in the dark, Jesus then works out its meaning for himself and his apostles in today’s Gospel.
It is at this time that Judas leaves the supper and it seems that his departure allows Jesus to indicate that something of importance is to follow. Then Jesus says: "now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. God will in turn glorify him in himself and will glorify him soon." We who know the course that these events take can understand this remark. We know that he will be raised from the dead.
But before this will happen, Jesus gives his apostles a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Already in the Old Testament we read: "Love one another." Jesus picks this up in his teaching, since it is an age old and traditional commandment, but here there is an unexpected detail added: "such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for each other." They must imitate the way Jesus had loved them. The Old Testament teaching on love had been based on the law of love, love of God and love of neighbor, a love achieved by following the law. Jesus now adds a new dimension where everyone will recognize that they are Jesus’ disciples as they imitate his love for them. Loving as he does, they now will have to pass through the same process of total renunciation to gain the same weight of glory he displays. They will share in his glory and it will become contagious. And, again, Jesus says that all will know that they are my disciples if you have love for one another.
Fr John R. Mulvehill