Love – The Law of the Kingdom
By Dennis S. Hankins
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-9)
It was only hours away. Beginning to feel the birth pangs of his Passion Jesus longed to be near his disciples. At his Last Supper with his closest associates, he first knelt before each one, bathing the feet of his followers. There was some resistance to this from Peter, but Jesus answered his reluctance explaining, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”
After washing their feet, Jesus returned to the table and asked, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anther’s feet. I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Your are servants and the servant is not greater than his master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.”
Just before Jesus departed to pray in the Garden, he gave them a new commandment. Even now the droplets of sweat that would become great drops of blood formed on his brow. Knowing that the greatest enemy of his cause would be foolish and divisive bickering and gossip and pride, Jesus wrote on each of their hearts with is Spirit, “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.”
More important than all the beautiful and ornate cathedrals, and the greatest tomes of theology and philosophy, and the loftiest thoughts ever conceived, is this last and new commandment Jesus gave his disciples. More magnanimous than being oracles and masters of great and profound words, or the ability to speak with the tongues of men and of angels, is this last commandment encompassing all of the fulness and meaning for why Jesus came into this world. More powerful than if someone had all the faith necessary to move mountains are these last few words of Jesus that if believed and lived can move the most calloused heart and heal the heart broken beyond all telling.
For more than anything else Jesus calls us to be filled with the great love of God. To owe each other nothing but a gracious and generous heart, moved by nothing greater and most certainly by nothing less than that Love that never fails. Just as sunshine is necessary to sustain us in body and mind no understanding of the Church is complete without knowing what is meant by the Body of Christ which is loving one another just as He has loved us. We love him because he first loved us. And by extension we should love one another with that love that covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
The most impoverished and weak expression of the Church is when she fails to look and live like that love with which Christ loves the Church. As we think more and more as we should about what a New Evangelization looks like perhaps we ought to begin at Home, in the parish where we Worship, Teach, and Serve – where Jesus is present wherever two or three are gathered in his name.
We should be acutely aware that no one really gives a plug nickel how much we subscribe to the letter of the Creeds or how much we can expound upon the finer points of what we believe. For the bottom line is that no one cares how much we know and can recite chapter, verse, and line the Holy writings, or can even pray in Latin. For no one will really care how much we know or how spiritual we are until they know how much we care.
Love is the first and last law of the kingdom. We fulfill it when we do no wrong to one another and forgiving each other when we fail to love each other as we should; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.