This command to love one another is new because of the kind of love it is. It’s not a selfish love that says, “This is what I want. Give it to me if you love me.” There was and still is a lot of that kind of love. The kind of love to which Jesus refers is a self-sacrificial love. It’s the kind of love that was exemplified in Jesus through His public and private ministry as He formed His disciples into a community of believers. It’s also the kind of love that was exemplified in His Passion as He suffered and died for those believers and the entire world. The love we are to have for one another is of the self-sacrificial brand. It is love that is committed. It is love that doesn’t have a self-serving agenda.
Friday evening I finished reading a book written by Salvomir Rawicz. The Long Walk is one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever read. Rawicz was a soldier in the Polish Army when the Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, thus beginning World War II. In retreat from the Germans, he inadvertently crossed the Polish border into Russia, where he was captured by the Russians and charged with being a spy. After several months of brutal interrogation, he was tricked into signing a confession stating that he was a spy. He was sentenced to 25 years hard labor in Siberia. He, along with hundreds of other prisoners, was transported by train some 3,000 miles east, then chained to a truck and forced to walk 1,000 miles north into the bitter cold of the Artic Circle where the labor prison was located.
Upon arrival he began to plot an escape. Over the next six months, he planned his get-away and during this time, six others joined him. On an appointed evening, the six escaped and headed south for India. Shortly after their journey began, they encountered a 19-year-old woman, who was also on the run. Her parents had been brutally murdered by the Russians. Eight of them joined together in a collective journey to freedom. This is a heart-wrenching true story. Some of them didn’t survive the 3,000-mile trek south that takes more than a year to complete — through the bitter cold in Siberia and the Himalayas and the blistering heat and drought of the Gobi Desert.
So many truths can be drawn from The Long Walk. One thing that impressed me was that these eight people expressed love for one another. They were all different. Some were Poles. One was an American. None was selfish. It was one for all and all for one. They were committed to one another — in both life and in death. They moved beyond the sentimentality of their relationship and came to really understand what love was.