by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB
The Last Supper is marked by many signs of love. St. John’s Gospel makes that abundantly clear. Jesus knew that his hour to depart had come, and “Having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1). As a sign of his love, Jesus stooped down to wash the feet of his friends. When Peter objected and Jesus threatened to abandon him, Peter cried out, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” In so many ways a broken friendship with Jesus affected him.
Nevertheless, John portrayed the unthinkable, that one of Jesus’ friends would betray him. Peter and John were side by side with Jesus. John, “the one whom Jesus loved,” was able to learn from Jesus that Judas was the betrayer. He was identified by the friendly, brotherly gesture of Jesus, dipping a morsel of bread, and offering it to him.
How different was the atmosphere Jesus wanted to create for his troubled followers. He spoke to them of a new commandment of love. Their first thought was not to fear God, but to love him and to prove it by mutual love between brothers and sisters. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another.“ Such conduct would be the sign of our Christian faith. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Through his great love for us, Jesus was sacrificing himself to open the Kingdom of Heaven for his loved ones .
St. John, Apostle of Love, recorded this explosion of love bursting from the heart of Jesus, and John would not be silenced. He went on to tell why Jesus was leaving them, “to prepare a place for them.” Jesus wanted them to remain close to him, to share in heaven the homes his Father had ready. But they and we do have our own responsibility. Jesus was clear. “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (Jn 14:23).
Faithful disciples of Jesus are meant to live in the boundless abyss of God’s Love, with him and in him forever. Heaven is the place of always satisfied, everlasting, never waning Love.