What would the world look like if all Christians took seriously Jesus’ words in today’s gospel: “Love one another as I have loved you”?
Imagine Christians all over the planet putting aside their differences to serve the poor and comfort the afflicted. How much less loneliness would there be if we visited the sick, spent time with the elderly and gave shelter to the homeless? What if all people of faith, inspired by the love of Jesus, worked to raise the standard of living for workers, to provide affordable healthcare for the infirm and to ensure the right to life for all human beings from the time they are conceived until their natural death?
There would be no problems we could not solve if we simply made our number one priority to love one another as Jesus loved us. Our world would enjoy profound and lasting peace as Christians began to put aside the hurts of the past and to forgive one another. Reaching out to our brothers and sisters of other races, nationalities and religions, we would work together to bring justice for all people rather than just to ensure our own narrow interests. The longstanding conflicts which have brought so much strife and conflict to our planet would melt away as followers of Jesus turned the other cheek when insulted, forgave readily when offended and sought reconciliation rather than retribution.
Imagine the transformation that would happen in families if Jesus’ love were at the center of all homes. What if husbands and wives saw their marriages as a holy calling from God and strove to put the interests of their spouses before their own? How much richer our society would be if they would be generous in bringing children into the world and giving them a home in which they learned to be responsible citizens and holy saints! Imagine every home being a place where the elderly are taken care of, the lonely find a welcome and children are made to feel special. How much more peaceful and humane would our society be if all our laws and public institutions supported marriage and family life?
Also, imagine the renewal which would take place in our Church? After Pentecost, it was the love that Christians showed each other which drew people to the good news about Jesus. What if we loved each other so sincerely and intensely that our neighbors began to take notice? How full would our Masses be if people felt welcomed, valued and uplifted? What if, instead of waiting for people to come to us, we began going door to door to reach out to those who have stopped worshipping with us or who have never heard of God’s love for them? Imagine the change that would take place if all of us could learn to share the good news of Jesus’ love without condemning or judging others. What if people could really feel in their hearts and believe that we love them? There would be no room for all those who would pour out of their homes to worship the God of love with us.
In today’s second reading from the book of Revelation, we hear God’s promise of a new heaven and a new earth. It will be a place where God lives among the people He loves. This presence of God will ensure that there will be no more pain or suffering. As Saint John tells us, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain…” It is the hope for a future paradise that our Heavenly Father promises to establish at the end of time. It is the full flowering of His love made visible and real for all people.
Only God has the power to bring about this new heaven and new earth. We who look forward to it with faith and hope must strive in this life to make it more visible and real through our acts of love. Because we are weak and fallen people, it will always seem impossible to us. We will always experience the temptation to put ourselves first, to brood over injuries or to simply withdraw from the struggle for justice. However, all things are possible for God. If we give our lives over to Him, responding to His love for us by loving Him in return, then our hearts will overflow with compassion for others. In our zeal to serve God through our neighbor, we will begin to forget ourselves. The challenges we face in striving for a life of goodness and a world of justice will not compare to the joy we feel in simply loving others. Then we will know that it is God working through us, helping us to overcome our selfishness and to live for others. We cannot achieve it on our own. The renewal of the Church and of society can only come about through God working in us through love.
Jesus tells us in today’s second reading, “Behold, I make all things new.” All things are made new in Christ through love. That renewal begins, first of all, with our hearts. Once we are transformed by love, our families begin to change. Once our families begin to change, our Church becomes fully alive and active. Once our Church becomes fully alive and active, our society becomes more civil and just. Once our society becomes more civil and just, our world can finally know peace. It is a dream that will only be fully realized at the end of time. However, it is a reality that we can already enjoy if we will live Jesus’ commandment of love.