Think about this really hard. If you had to come up with a list of persons in the category of "I would go out on a limb for these people," who would be on it?
OK. Now that you've completed that list, here comes another question that might thin down the list a bit. For whom would you be willing to lay down your life? If I were pressed to answer that question, I confess that my list is quite short.
Now hear this portion of today's Gospel reading:
"I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.
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."
-- Jesus Christ on the night
he was handed over
to suffering and death,
as recorded in John 13:34-35.
Jesus asks us to love one another, but not in the way we might expect. Of course Christians should love one another because we are brothers and sisters and fellow members in Christ's body the Church. As Episcopalians we take baptismal vows to "seek and serve Christ in all persons" and to "respect the dignity of every human being."
Jesus commands us to love one another "as he has loved us." Jesus laid down his life for his friends. He said there is no greater love. St. Paul says that "Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her." Awesome, isn't it? Now, where is my list? I need to work on it some more.