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New Resolve for a New Year
The model of Jesus' life
By Daniel Doyle
This article originally appeared in the January 2010 Newsletter.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another”
– John 13:34
Many words in Scripture challenge and inspire us on the topic of eliminating hunger and poverty. Jesus’ new commandment, as stated in John’s Gospel, provides the perfect standard to follow. Unlike other Gospel messages, such as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” in John, Jesus is the standard rather than us. In this passage, the setting is the eve of Jesus’ death. The Passover is not marked by the sharing of bread and wine—rather, Jesus gets down and dirty by washing his disciples’ feet. In this setting, he gives his new commandment—love.
We can be overwhelmed or inspired by following Jesus’ call to love. Advocating for justice and providing charity for those experiencing hunger and poverty has become more difficult under our current economic conditions, despite the good intentions and hard work of many. Yet our present moment is a potentially wonderful opportunity.
The start of a new year gives us an occasion to evaluate the past and set a new resolve for our future efforts to promote justice for poor and hungry people. By reflecting on Jesus’ life, we can be inspired to reach out and invite new people to walk with us.
At gatherings, we can engage others through conversation, as Jesus did at the wedding in Cana. We can continue to feed with loaves and fishes while seeing Jesus in those who come to soup kitchens and food pantries. We can be good shepherds of our time, talents, and treasure. We can respond non-judgmentally, yet with conviction, to those who might question or disagree with our passion for justice for all people in need. We might provide instruction about the connection of faith and justice.
If we feel overwhelmed by present conditions, we can take inspiration from Jesus, who continued to guide and form his disciples up until his death. Jesus was not distracted from his mission, even though he knew his disciples would betray, deny, and abandon him. May we all find new wisdom and direction in our reading, reflection, and prayer that increases our understanding of God’s love for all.
By evaluating at the start of the year our past intentions and actions regarding justice, we have the advantage of seeing transformative moments in the past. With that awareness, we can make adjustments to our present and future directions. By using Jesus as our standard, we can increase our resolve to give witness to Jesus’ words to his disciples: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Daniel Doyle is active in Bread for the World at Church of the Resurrection in Muncy, PA, and through the county-wide ecumenical efforts of the United Churches of Lycoming County’s Social Concerns Committee.