“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.” John 13: 34-35
The new commandment in the epitaph above is when Jesus is with the disciples on the night of his arrest and the night before he dies. The disciples had just learned of a betrayal in group. One they considered a friend, and a confidant is going to the authorities to help in Jesus’s arrest. They must have been sad but more they must have been angry. How could one of Jesus’s twelve betray him? Jesus’s movement will end with his arrest and who knows what will happen to them.
In a moment when it would be easier to hate, Jesus tells them to love each other.
The beauty of the stories of Jesus is that they reflect the human condition today. Loving one another is hard with family and with strangers. The stress of a continued pandemic and all its variants, the daily rise in gas prices, earth crying out for help, injustice unchecked, and a war leads me to want to blame and shame someone. Even myself. I find myself not very loving.
I listened to a recent recast of an On Being podcast with Krista Tippet and Sylvia Boorstein titled “What We Nurture”. It focused on parenting, particularly mothers and how we raise our children to be loving and kind people in the world. It is a rich podcast and I understand why it was played again after 10 years.
Krista Tippet wondered how at times it is hard to love and be compassionate. That maybe being kinder is easier. We don’t have to commit to the full love that Jesus is mentioning in scripture (my words). Boorstein wondered back if kindness is on the journey with love. That kindness in its simplicity might be what we are capable of now at the same time bringing about a better world. That is love.
I really like that idea of kindness. It doesn’t feel as hard as loving. It is smaller movements in myself to be mindful of God’s presence in and around me. Being kind means: Breaking from my irritated spirit to let the rushed young man in construction clothes move ahead in line as I shop at the corner store. I have only a computer waiting for me at home not a crew of workers at a worksite; Being kind to myself and others as I drive home from work, with each deep breath I take I hate less and love more; And, when I hear crabbiness from another realizing it is not about me. That in kindness, I only have to be a safe place to listen, revealing in the midst is God.
Love as Christ loved us. Kindness seems like a good way to get there.