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April 28, 2013: 5th Sunday of Easter

The next time you are tempted to “lord it over” another person, recall Jesus’ invitation to be a servant to all.

Jesus said to his disciples, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13: 31-33A, 34-35)

Let us imagine ourselves at the Last Supper, hearing Jesus proclaim “a new commandment: love one another.” We might have wondered what was new! Certainly Jesus had spoken of love, and demonstrated love, before! At this table, we would know one thing that was different about this night—Jesus had just washed our feet! Surprised and touched by this act of affectionate service, we had to think in a new way. This was more than a reminder of the second great commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves—this was Jesus’ new commandment, to love one another as he loved us.

And soon we would learn that this love would go as far as human love can possibly go. Leaving the supper room with the disciples and walking to the Garden of Olives, Jesus made clear what he was doing and why. Jesus endured crucifixion for many reasons, but surely this is one of the most profound: “There is no greater love, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


Let us surprise someone with a loving act of kindness—as Jesus did. Then let us consider something we have to endure—a disappointment, a disability, a boring job–and consider how we might, as Jesus did, transform it into a great act of love for our friends.

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Sister Ellen Cunningham

Sister Ellen Cunningham has been a Sister of Providence since 1959. She has ministered as a high school teacher in English, French, chemistry and religion. For 38 years she ministered at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) teaching mathematics, which included 12 years as a department chair. Since her retirement in 2012, Sister Ellen has volunteered at SMWC in the alumni relations office.

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