KC Jones was a former coach of the Boston Celtics basketball team. He guided the Larry Bird-led Celtics to championships in 1984 and 1986. As a coach, he was known for his unique ability to give his players unforgettable words of encouragement when they needed it most. If a player scored 50 points or made the winning-game basket, Jones would simply say: “nice game.” But when a player was really down and struggling, Coach Jones would be there to comfort and inspire him. Once, All-Star forward Kevin McHale asked him about this. Coach Jones replied: “Kevin, after making the winning basket, you’ve got 15,000 people cheering for you.; TV Commentators come rushing towards you and everybody is giving you high fives. You don’t need me then. When you need a friend most, is when nobody is cheering.”
Today’s gospel (Jn 13:31-33,34-35) is Jesus’ way of inspiring his followers when they need it the most. He commands them: Love one another. The context of this episode was at the Last Supper. It was in the context of Judas’ betrayal. By now, Judas was intent to destroy Jesus by selling him for thirty pieces of silver. Though Jesus knew it well, he insisted to teach them a lesson of love. It was a love beyond betrayal; a love that was life-giving and overflowing. Jesus understood that the only way to defeat hate and evil is through love.
This makes love the greatest commandment. The Old Testament teaching places love as the highest obligation. As a great teacher, Jesus summarizes all of God’s commandments into one word – love. Love, then, is the essence of Christianity. A Christian is a great lover. Even St. Paul affirms that in the end, only three things last: faith, hope and love. The greatest is love. Love is the most God-like quality. God does not have faith or hope. But God is love.
Moreover, love will give the greatest meaning of our life. The greatest regret people will have at their death bed is that they have not love enough. Most people, in their final hours will apologize. They will ask for sorry for what they have not done. Most of all, they will say: I love you to their family and friends. At the end of our life, if we have love much, that would be enough. Because if we have not loved, we are nothing.
Prayer: Lord, make me understand that love gives great meaning to my life. Amen.