“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Friends in Christ, Holy Week is upon us. We call it holy, but at times it seems anything but. If we observe the week in its entirety, we experience a full circle – from hope, to conflict, betrayal and death, and back to hope. It can be tempting to skip the middle part, and just to focus on hope – on resurrection and life. But if our faith is to have power in our lives, if our faith is to be a rock from which we cannot be moved even during the hardest times, we need to remember the road of suffering that Jesus walked. Love is not all sunshine and butterflies. Love is service, and truth-telling, and compassion. Walking the way of love can be hard and even dangerous in this world, but it is the only path to abundant life.
The good news is we never walk the way of love alone. God is with us. At the beginning of our Lenten journey, we were invited to remember that, and to turn our focus to God through self-examination and repentance. This Lent I’ve had a hard time maintaining a Lenten discipline and I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to his sleepy disciples when he was praying in Gethsemane, “could you not wait with me one hour?” We are easily distracted, or we are tired, or afraid.
We also are forgiven and invited to return again to God. May we heed that invitation this Holy Week, as we remember those who welcomed and loved Jesus, and those who betrayed, condemned, and denied Jesus. What makes this week holy is not human action. What makes this week holy are Jesus’ actions, and God’s response to human actions. We are loved. Even when we mess up. May we, in turn, love.