John 13:31-35 (NRSV)
Verse 31When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. Verse 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Verse 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' Verse 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. Verse 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
Once more God is doing a new thing—giving a new commandment to “love another.” But, is it really new? As the lawyer responded to Jesus just before his teaching in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, wasn’t this call to “love your neighbor as yourself” already part of the tradition of God’s law? (Luke 10.25-28)
As we read earlier this week, Peter’s encounter with Cornelius about faith was very personal. The connection made there was very much like that of Jesus here in John with the disciples around this table before his death. Jesus’ call is to live into a new relationship with other believers that is so strong the world cannot help but see it. These strong ties within the body of Christ are, and must be, stronger than any other connections we, as the children of God, have. We are members one of another, not always agreeing, but still not separated by divisions along political party lines, conservative or liberal thinking, country loyalties or language differences, or racial or cultural differences.
Lord of all, grant us the grace to love another without the hindrance of walls or divisions or any other human construct. Help us to understand what oneness of the Body of Christ can be in a practical way in this earthly life. Help us to be the testimony to the world you would have us be. Amen.