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Gospel for Sunday, May 15: John 13: 31-35

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31When he went out, Jesus said: “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God also has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him on his part and will glorify him immediately. 33Children, I am with you for a little while longer; you will look for me, but as I have already said to the Jews, I now also say it to you: where I am going you cannot come. 34I give you a new commandment: that you love one another; as I have loved you, so you also must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”.

John 13: 31-35

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

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The law of Love

The great rabbinic tradition, in the chaos of Judaism’s prescriptions and decrees, sought, according to the question posed to Jesus by a doctor of the Law, who was “the first” (Mt 22,34-40), “the greatest” ( Mk 12,28-31) commandment, the one necessary “to have eternal life” (Lk 10,25-28), the one that could summarize all the Law and the Prophets (Mt 22,40). The Talmud said that Moses came and 613 commandments were given, 365 negative (the number of days in the year) and 248 positive (the number of members of the human body). Jesus taught that “the greatest and first of the commandments” was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” but that the second was “similar to the first: you will love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22,37-38); indeed, in Mark it is said: “There is no other commandment (editor’s note: in the singular) more important than these” (Mk 12.31), and Luke presents them as a single command (Lk 10.27). Paul concludes: “Any other commandment is summed up in these words: You shall love your neighbor as yourself… The full fulfillment of the law is love” (Rom 13.9-10); “For the whole Law finds its fullness in one precept: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:14). For this reason the apostles constantly exhort: “Above all, let there be charity, which is the bond of perfection” (Col 3:14); “Love one another intensely, from the heart” (1 Pt 1,22); “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Who doesn’t love

remains in death… He laid down his life for us: therefore we too must lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:14.16).

The “new commandment” of mutual love, which will become the distinctive feature of the disciples (Jn 13.34), is the only translation of the command to love God: God in fact wants to be loved in man: “If anyone were to say: ‘I I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. Indeed, anyone who does not love his brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he does not see” (1 Jn 4:20); “If anyone has riches in this world, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how can the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3.17); “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Mt 10.40); “Truly I say to you, whenever you did these things to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me… Whenever you did not do these things to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mt 25,40.45).

Christians now have a “new commandment” which must make them recognized among all men, love each other (Jn 13.34): this is the only criterion of ecclesiality proposed to us by Christ: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

Why is this commandment “new”? It is revolutionary in its origin: we love each other because God loved us first (1 John 4.19).

Furthermore, the love with which we must love one another finds its source in God: the Greek adverb “as” (“kathòs”) in the expression “as I have loved you” (Jn 13.34) does not only express a comparison, but rather rather causality, materiality: “Love each other with the same love with which I have loved you”.

It is a new commandment for the measure: we will no longer have to love each other only as ourselves (Mt 19.38), but as Jesus loved us, that is “to the end” (Jn 13.1), to the point of giving our lives for others friends (Jn 15:13).

And it is new in its extension: we will not only have to love “ours”, those of our group, our race or our religion, those we like, but even our enemies (Mt 5.45-48).

The most important dimension of ecclesial life is therefore fraternal love: “Love one another with brotherly affection, compete in esteem for one another” (Rom 12:10). What we must look for in the Church is mutual love, at any cost, without jealousy, without pretenses. May the Church be the place of cordiality, of mutual welcome, of abstention from judgment, of true and full brotherhood. The Church must be the place where fraternal relationships “with one another” (Jn 13.34; 15.12; Rom 12.10; 1 Thess 4.9) are very close, and where we are so “with” (1 Cor 12.26; 2 Cor 7.3; Phil 1.27) to truly form one body.

At the same time we must be a Church that sows love. We must increasingly become “a Church of compassion, a Church of participatory acceptance of the pain of others, a Church of involvement as an expression of one’s passion for God. Since the biblical message about God is, at its core, a message sensitive to suffering: sensitive to the pain of others, ultimately to the pain of enemies… We must set ourselves on the trail of lasting sympathy, commit ourselves to a courageous willingness not to evade the pain of others, in alliances and basic projects of compassion” (J. B. Metz).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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