In the gospel this
past Sunday, Jesus, as he was approaching the time of his death,
continued sharing with his disciples about abiding. Whenever Jesus
repeats a concept, we, as his modern day disciples, would do well to pay
attention! And then Jesus went on to share with them and with us, what
he said was "my commandment". Only one. Again, we better pay
attention. "Love one another as I have loved you", he said. Tall order.
Especially when you are eyeball to eyeball with someone who is
cantankerous, obnoxious, difficult, unlovely, and unloveable. It's
a challenging commandment to follow. In fact if we try it on our own it
The way it is remotely possible, the way we have
a chance of fulfilling Jesus' one and only commandment is to abide. The
truth is that we need his love first before we can love. With the love
we absorb from abiding, we can love the unlovable, those we don't like,
those we don't agree with, those who have hurt us, those the world
rejects. This kind of love is called agape love. The goal of agape love
is to give not to get. The ability to share agape love is the direct
result of experiencing agape love.
heard the story of Pee Wee Reese, a Southern white man, and the
way his agape love saved the career of Jackie Robinson, the first black
man to play Major League baseball.
And then we heard the legend of a rabbi who
begged God to see both heaven and hell. God answered his prayer. First
he was shown a banquet hall with people all around a long table in the
middle of which was a steaming bowl of food. Each person was holding a
very long- handled spoon. Despite the presence of a huge bowl of food,
the diners were all shrieking with hunger. The handles on the spoons
were too long and their arms were too short. They could not feed
themselves. They all cursed God who had created this torture, And they
starved while the bowl of food lay before them. The rabbi realized that
the shriekings were the cries of hell. Then the door closed.
The rabbi closed his eyes, prayed, and begged to
be taken away from this terrible place. When he opened his eyes he was
in front of the same door. He saw the same room, the same table, the
same bowl of food, the same people, and the same spoons. But there was
no shrieking. The cries and curses had become words of blessing. The
people were giving thanks to God for giving them such joy. With the same
long spoons they were feeding each other. The rabbi thanked God for
showing him the nature of heaven and hell and what a hairsbreadth
distance there was between the two.
Blessings and prayers for our ministries to others,