In honor of Maundy Thursday here is an excerpt from one of Augustine’s sermons on the new commandment found in John 13:34, which says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
“For, on the one hand, he that loves God cannot despise His commandment to love his neighbor; and on the other, he who in a holy and spiritual way loves his neighbor, what does he love in him but God? That is the love, distinguished from all earthly love, which the Lord specially characterized, when He added, “as I have loved you.” For what was it but God that He loved in us? Not because we had Him, but in order that we might have Him; and that He may lead us on, as I said a little ago, where God is all in all. It is in this way, also, that the physician is properly said to love the sick; and what is it he loves in them but their health, which at all events he desires to recall; not their sickness, which he comes to remove? Let us, then, also so love one another, that, as far as possible, we may by the solicitude of our love be winning one another to have God within us. And this love is bestowed on us by Him who said, “As I have loved you, that you also love one another.” For this very end, therefore, did He love us, that we also should love one another; bestowing this on us by His own love to us, that we should be bound to one another in mutual love, and, united together as members by so pleasant a bond, should be the body of so mighty a Head”