It’s All About Love.
Some of us can recall the show and song that go with these quotes:
“Who loves ya, baby?” and “Who loves you pretty baby?”
If you thought of Telly Savalas as the detective Kojak, you’re right. And if you thought of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons who sang the number one hit song by the same title, you’re right again.
Yes, love has been, is, and will continue to be a theme, perhaps the most important emotion, in millions, no make that billions, of lives. And it’s at the heart of our Gospel this morning.
Recall the context within which these words were spoken: it’s Maundy Thursday, Jesus’ last evening with his disciples. He’s washed their feet, eaten the last supper and communed with all of them. Then he sends Judas away to do his dirty work and finalize the betray and Jesus’ arrest. Just after Judas leaves, he speaks to the 11. Jesus tells them that God has been glorified in Jesus. Jesus also warns them that he will be with them only for a short time. And that they aren’t coming with him on his journey to a death on the cross. In fact, a few verses beyond our text for today, Peter (imagine that!) says he would lay down his life for Jesus. But Jesus knows better and tells Peter he will deny Jesus three times before the next dawn. Finally, Jesus gives his followers 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.”
Whom do you love?
This brings us back to our first question about love. Let’s turn it around for a moment–instead of who loves you, ask yourself the question: whom do you love?
For some of us, it’s an easy one on the surface. Probably (though not exclusively or all inclusively) family members come to mind. Children, spouses, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins–most likely reflect your first thoughts or inner circle. Some of us think fondly and perhaps even attribute our love to good friends, people we’ve known for a long time or maybe just a short time, but for whom a strong, close relationship exists. Maybe you literally love someone who lives near you, whether it be in a single family or congregate living arrangement. After all, Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself” didn’t he? All well and good. No doubt each of us can conjur up current or past person(s) and people in our lives for whom the verb “love” applies. Before I forget, and since we don’t have any at our house it isn’t at the top of my list, some people form strong attachments to pets, too, and would claim that they love their dog, or cat, or another animal with whom they have a loving relationship. We’ll stick to people, though, for this message.
Love is patient…
St. Paul wrote about love in that famous passage and oft quoted scripture found in the first letter to the Corinthians: Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.”
Who loves us?
The second question this morning could be “Who loves us?” On that list might be some if not many of the same as on your first list, right–family, friends, and neighbors. But the most important love of all for us is God’s love. The one that St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,