"A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you." - John 13:34
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples for the last time and gave them a new commandment: to love one another as he loved them. "Mandatum" is Latin for "commandment" which has been shortened to "Maundy" (not Monday) to the confusion of Christians ever since.
We're not only baffled by the strange name but also by the surprisingly simple instruction. Mostly it's because we're confused about love. So often when we say "I love you," it means "I love the way you make me feel" or "I love what you do for me" or "I love the idea of being in love." See the problem? It's more about "me" than it is about "you."
Jesus didn't have that problem. How do I know? Because Jesus' disciples did almost nothing for him, other than inspire headaches and heartbreak. And yet he loved them. They demonstrated a remarkable capacity for missing the point and Jesus loved them. They grumbled, complained and quarreled among themselves and he loved them. They fell asleep, in the hour of his greatest need, and Jesus loved them. The disciples betrayed, denied and abandoned Jesus and he loved them anyway.
That should come as exceptionally good news since you are no different. And Jesus loves you. If that doesn't fill your heart with a heavenly host of hallelujahs, well, I'm out of ideas.
Now it's your turn to love like that, starting with yourself and concluding with that person who drives you bonkers. Love them anyway.
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me anyway. By your grace, may I return the favor to everyone I meet today.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.