If you love me – you will love

“Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my Commandments.”John 14

To our modern ear the word commandment may evoke an ancient biblical time. Commandment sounds restrictive or a diminishment of the freedom and autonomy we seek in our American culture. Yet, what Jesus means by the word commandment is far from this image. The commandment of Jesus is to live in the bounty of God’s abundant peace and freedom. When Jesus is asked about commandments he ans wers, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two com mandments.” M atthew 22

When we love God, we love ourselves and others. Gratefully acknowledging that all comes from God as a gift, leads us to a peaceful inner place from which flows the freedom to love. Our commandment or mission is to live and love spir itually, socially and in service.

Jesus promises, in today’s Gospel, that we are never alone in our loving. God’s own Spirit of truth acts like an Advocate deep within us inspiring, motivating and empowering us to love. If our way, our truth and our life is Jesus we will love as Jesus loves.

What does it mean to love Jesus?

Pope Benedict the XVI, in a homily given on May 26, 2006 in Pilsudski Square in Poland eloquently answered what it means to love Christ. (www.vatican.va)

“Christ says: “If you love me…” Faith does not just mean accepting a certain number of abstract truths about the mysteries of God, of man, of life and death, of future realities. Faith consists in an immediate relationship with Christ, a relationship based on love of him who loved us first (Jn.4:11), even to the total offering of himself…

But what does it mean to love Christ? It means trusting him even in times of trial, following him faithfully even on the Via Crucis , in the hope that so on the morning of the R esurrection will c ome . Entrusting ourselves to Christ, we lose nothing, we gain everything. In his hands our life acquires its true meaning. Love for Christ expresses itself in the will to harmonize our own life with the thoughts and sentiments of his Heart. This is achieved through interior union based on the grace of he sacraments, strengthened by continuous prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and pendants. We have to listen attentively to the inspiration that He evokes through his Word, through the people we meet, through the situations of daily life. To love him is to remain in dialogue with him, in order to know h is will and to put it into effect properly.

Dear brothers and sisters, faith as adherence to Christ is revealed as love tha t prompts us to promote the good inscribed by the Creator into the nature of every man and woman among us, into the personality of every other human being and into everything that exists in the world. Whoever believes and loves is in this way becomes a bui lder of the true “civilization of love”, of which Christ is the center.”

Reflection Questions
  1. How has your understanding of the word commandment changed?
  2. Why do you think that Jesus invites us to love God first and then our neighbor?
  3. In what ways does the Spirit of God inspire, motivate and empower you to love?
  4. How are you being invited by God to reach out to others, spiritually socially or in service?
  5. What words in the quote of Pope Benedict XVI spoke t o you? How are they motivating you t o be a builder of a “civilization of love”?

Fr. Joe