The words of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading are very familiar. We have heard them hundreds of times. “Love one another. That is how people will know you are my disciples.” Let us reflect on these well known words of Christ from the last supper.
Names or titles can trigger certain reactions, certain feelings and expectations are evoked about what that individual will be like. What do people today think when they hear the word “Christian”? What should “Christian” mean to people? When someone says to us “Here is John, Fred, Mary, Tom or Betty and by the way he or she is a Christian,” what do people expect? Today the reaction may be different from years ago.
In some circles the name “Christian” evokes impressions of intolerance, politicised and power-hungry religion, oppressive proselytising, an absence of respect for non-Christians and perhaps an anti intellectualism. In other circles, the name “Christian” will indicate someone on whom we can rely to tell the truth, who treats all people with respect, whose word we can trust, who is concerned with fairness in our world, who lives not by majority opinion but by God’s law, who knows that he or she has a purpose wider that this world. To everyone, the name “Christian” should mean someone who is trying to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. All of these latter characteristics should define us as His disciples.
The life of Jesus, the magnificent moment when he walked the earth 2,000 years ago, died and rose from the dead, wasn’t meant to be just an inspiring memory. It was a way of life that was to continue in His followers so that His love would continue to touch and heal the world. To love as Christ did is impossible for any human being by himself or herself. It requires the very presence of Christ within. If anything brings people to Jesus it will be us Christians. The shadow side to this truth is that if anything keeps people away from Jesus, it will be us Christians as well. DO WE DRAW PEOPLE TO JESUS OR DO WE TURN THEM AWAY?