Love one another. Love one another. Love one another! That goes for everyone, as in, in the whole world! Love those you don’t love yet, especially! That’s what I came to say, and I’ll say it again many times before I’m through. It’s that important, and we have so little time.
Jesus was a master of the teaching story. I don’t know how he particularly thought of them, his cryptic Zen koans with which he tried so hard to illuminate a concept so alien, so counter to a people bound in law; but I can imagine the blank looks that he saw as he preached. Such tools as were available. Sowing seeds upon every kind of soil. It is a mercy that so many of his parables have survived the crush of millennia, so that we can meditate upon them today as we consider this simple statement, “Love one another”-this mind-altering, empire-shattering mandate that is the heart of Jesus’ message. Three years of parables and enigmas gives us reflection for a lifetime, as we well know today. But back in his day, that very time had run out for Jesus.
And he says as much. As his most faithful gather with him in a small room in Jerusalem, in the shadow of the very authorities who wish him silenced, he pares it down, bares its bones, uncovers its heart. Silence soon enough. No more stories. Just plain speech and action. And with that he gears up and kneels down, and abases himself; the master in the role of the humblest servant, and washes his followers’ feet. No more stories. Just utterly perplexing action! The disciples are taken aback, and into the hollow of their collective gasp, Jesus says- “There. Now love one another as I have loved you.” He says this, mind you, knowing that one of them has already sold him to the authorities, that his strongest will quail in the face of danger, and that the rest will scatter like those very sown seeds. Such a simple statement, delivered in practice. “As I do, do thou therefore.”
So here we are. Two thousand years we’ve had to peruse this material. Just as long to practice, too. Somehow though, it seems we’ve ended right back where the people to whom Jesus delivered this message were. Fear has outstripped love, and greed is the fashion, not sharing. We are set one against another- liberal, conservative, male, female, pious, heretical, us, them, me…..the rest of you. I was admonished not to be scary with this meditation, but truth be told, looking at the fires burning in the human heart around the world, I am scared. I feel so powerless. Enormous forces vie against one another while we try to cover our tiny nests with our wings, protect our young and pray for a better kinder tomorrow. Wait. Pray for a kinder tomorrow? Why not love one another, today! Crank open that tap! Trust me, it will not run dry! Voila! A kinder tomorrow! Holy mackerel! I think we’re on to something here! Can you feel that power? We, each one of us, has the literal power to change the world. Jesus says so- ponder the parables! Do I want a kinder tomorrow? I must be kind today. Can’t grow grapes with turnip seeds. In the same way, if we meditate on recompense for a wrong done -seeking justice, as noble as the concept seems, we are simply sowing more of itself. Justice is rarely equal, and when there is imbalance, things topple, like dominos, or temples. Bad feelings arise. Our justice seems to another revenge. Revenge begets revenge. Things escalate; and doom is the destination of that road. Ugh. Horrors. So hard to face the news. Feel so powerless! What to do? Jesus pleads mercy. Jesus says over and over and over, almost to his dying breath, “Love one another!” It’s as simple as that, and oh so hard. I’ve no time to prove these things to you, but they are true. You have four gospels and a billion pages of commentary to check out my story. Besides, this isn’t advice anymore. It’s a Mandate, says the crystal clear voice of God through Jesus. Do it and live. Please don’t choose doom. You break my heart.
Love each other, children.