Holy Thursday: As He Has Loved Us

“A new commandment I give you: love one another…” For this to make sense, we must love ourselves, and love ourselves rightly.

This text was originally published as part of Ad Cenam Agni, a 2023 virtual Lenten Retreat hosted by the Abbot's Circle.


“A new commandment I give you: love one another…”  

The commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves comes from the law of Moses, Lev. 19:18.  Jesus Himself says this is the second greatest commandment, like unto the command to love God.  For this to make sense, we must love ourselves, and love ourselves rightly.  We have to love above all our salvation, union with God in heaven, and nothing and no one must come between us and Him.  We therefore desire and pray for one another’s forgiveness from sin, growth in virtue, and everlasting happiness.  And we love everything else which leads to that goal: health, friends, and life.

And yet on Holy Thursday Christ gives us a new commandment: to love one another as He has loved us.  No longer are we to love our fellowmen with only that love of equal creatures subject to an infinitely greater God.  We are to love one another with God’s own love flowing through us.  And that bespeaks a kindness, a generosity, and a self-sacrifice, the likes of which the world had never seen before the Last Supper and Good Friday.  

As Jesus wraps a towel around His waist and proceeds to engage in the most servile of labors—to wash feet that will almost immediately get dirty again—He commands a love that will find its supreme expression the very next day.  So are we to learn that loving as Christ does is found not only in the crucifying moments of trial and anguish, but also and especially in the concrete, personal, daily service we pay to each other as Jesus would have us do.

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