All the readings are familiar today. That sometimes makes it more difficult for me to find a new “spin” that will be worthy of attention. I think it’s fair to say that one of the most recognizable utterances of Jesus is today’s gospel verse: I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you. (JN 13:34) As is often the case, however, it was one word that caught my eye, the word new. People have been hearing or reading and preaching about that line for centuries; some of us have known it since early childhood. I thought this morning that perhaps we come to know it daily in a different way according to the people and experiences that bump up against our own as we proceed along our spiritual path. One of the best examples of this truth for me is from St. Augustine, whose passionate words on this topic never get old.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me and now I burn for your peace. (The Confessions of St. Augustine)