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April 1979

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1)

Do you know when the Gospel reports these words? It is just before Jesus has wrapped a towel around himself to wash his disciples' feet and to prepare them for his passion, in John's Gospel. In the last moments that he is with them, Jesus shows them the love by which they are nourished in a way that is unsurpassed and very clear.

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Those words, to the end, mean: right to the very end of his life, to the last breath. But in that phrase is the idea of perfection. It is intended also to express the truth that he loves them completely, totally, with all his heart, to the very limits of love. The disciples of Jesus will remain in the world, while Jesus will be in glory. They will feel lonely, they will have to overcome many trials, and for such moments, Jesus wants them to be sure of his love.

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Can you sense in this word the life style of the Christ, his way of loving? He washed the disciples' feet. His love led him to do even this service, which in those days was usually done only by the slaves. Jesus is preparing himself in this way for the tragedy of Calvary, when he will give to 'his own' and to all the world, more than his extraordinary words, more than his unique miracles, more than all his deeds, he will also give his life. They needed, and it is the greatest need of everyone, to be liberated from sin, which means from death, and to be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. They were intended to have peace and joy in life which would be without end.

Jesus offers himself unto death, declaring himself forsaken of God, abandoned, even to the point of being able to say, 'It is finished.'

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

In this word is the tenaciousness of the love of God and the gentleness of the affection of a brother.

Because Christ is in us, we Christians are also able to love like that. I do not want to put before you now the imitation of Jesus in his dying for others (when his time had come); I do not want to offer to you as necessary examples, Fr. Kolbe who died in place of a fellow-prisoner, nor Fr. Damien, who became a leper with the lepers, in order to die with and for them. It may be that in the course of time you will never be called to offer your physical life for your brothers. But what God will certainly require of you is that you love them without reservations, in depth, to the end until you too are able to say, 'It is finished.' That is what little Cetti did. She is an eleven-year old Italian girl.

She saw that her young friend and companion, Georgina, of about the same age, was very sad. She wanted to comfort her, but couldn't. Then she wanted to go deeper, even to the limit, and discover what it was that troubled her. Georgina's father had died and her mother had left her alone with her grandmother. The mother had gone off to live with another man. Cetti sensed the tragedy and took action. Although a mere child, she asked Georgina if she might speak to her mother, but Georgina asked her first to accompany her to the grave of her father. Cetti went with her and with her heart fun of love she listened to Georgina imploring her father with tears to come and take her. It was heart breaking for Cetti. Nearby there was a little derelict church, they went in. All that remained of the church was a little tabernacle and a crucifix. Cetti said, 'Look! In this world, all will be destroyed, but that crucifix and that tabernacle will remain.' Georgina dried her tears and answered, 'Yes! You are right,' Cetti took her gently by the hand and went with her to her mother. When they arrived she addressed her quite firmly, in these words, 'Please listen! These matters are no concern of mine, but I tell you that you have left your daughter without the love of a mother and she needs that love. And I tell you one thing more, that you will find no peace until you have taken her again to be with you and repented of what you did.'

Cetti continued her friendship with Georgina who returned to school next day. But now the situation was completely changed. A car came to collect Georgina, driven by her mother. And from then on, the car came every day, because now she was living with her mother, who had decisively broken with the other man.

One may say of the things that Cetti did, small and great, the words of Jesus, 'It is finished!' She has done all things well. She went as deeply as she could. And it was successful.

Think about that a little. How often have you started to take care of someone and then given up, quietening your conscience with many excuses? How many activities have you initiated with enthusiasm, and given them up in the face of difficulties which seemed too great for you to overcome?

The lesson which Jesus gives to you today is:

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Do this! If one day God really asks you to give your life, you will not hesitate. The martyrs went to their death singing. The prize will be the greatest glory, because Jesus has said that no one in the world has greater love than he who gives his life for his friends.

Chiara Lubich

 

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