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Lenten Challenge to Love One Another

Apr 2, 2012
Maria Odom

This week, Christians around the world trace and live the last steps of Christ, from the jubilant moment he entered Jerusalem to a crowd of palm waving believers, to the solemn moment of his agonizing death on the cross, to the joyful victory of his resurrection from the dead.  Throughout the prior weeks of Lent, we have prepared for this sacred week which brings the renewal of our faith in Christ through the saving grace of his death and resurrection.  We remember how Christ prepared for his own agonizing death by washing his disciples’ feet and demonstrating that a leader – a teacher – is first a humble servant.  We remember how he celebrated the first holy Eucharist and how, before his captors arrived, Jesus prayed to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane.

During Holy Week we acknowledge that, as many a loving departing soul does,

Jesus also prepared those he loved for his death.  Jesus chose this monumental hour to impart a new commandment:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34.

When I read this week’s scripture I think of what Jesus must have been going through when he knew he was about to be arrested, tortured, humiliated, and crucified.  He knew the moment had finally come to sacrifice himself for the salvation of the World. And how powerful it is that Christ chose this very moment to command us to love one another – to show the World that we are HIS disciples because we can and we do love one another?  Jesus was about to die for us and he only asked of us one thing – to love one another as much as he loves us.  And now, faced with that powerful commandment, we live with the lingering question:  “well, how hard can that be?”  It’s not so easy.  My daily work at CLINIC reminds me that this commandment to love one another presents a fundamental challenge to us all.

I am honored to lead an organization with a mission rooted in the Gospel’s call to welcome the stranger – our daily work responds to Christ’s request that we love without conditions, including the migrant, the vulnerable, and those in need. However, each day I am also reminded that many in our community oppose our positions and that they too must be treated with love and respect (and that is hard). 

Because I know how very difficult it is to love unconditionally, today I leave with my sincere Easter prayer:

May we trust that Christ’s loving sacrifice will turn hearts and minds and inspire the birth of more balanced and compassionate immigration positions.  May we work in community to replace measures aimed at scaring the migrant into self-deportation with solution driven policies which protect human dignity and serve the common good.  And may we continue to approach this most difficult challenge in respectful partnership, remembering that in his darkest hours Jesus called us to be his disciples through one simple act:  loving one another.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:35


*Ms. Odom is the Executive Director of CLINIC