Acts 10:25-26.34-35.44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
Jesus continues this week what I describe, perhaps a little irreverently, as a kind of ‘divine pillow talk’.
I have loved you … remain in my love … my own joy may be in you … and your joy be complete … I have loved you … you are my friends … I have made known to you everything … I chose you.
The divine intimacy is undeniable, alluring, captivating and grounds us in a place in which there is no anxiety, no fear; in a place where there are no questions.
And what response can we give other than: I love you too, Lord, and I want to remain in your love?
It really is like coming home isn’t it? Like finding, at last, that place where one can truly settle down, put down one’s roots, and live in secure peace. As Jesus said last week: Make your home in me.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
It’s such a clear and oft-repeated refrain throughout the gospels – love is synonymous with keeping the commandments. That’s how Jesus himself showed his love for the Father. Astonishing!
Just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
Human love can be a rather messy affair full of volatile, occasionally out-of-control, emotions. How often, in fact, do people say ‘I just don’t feel like I love God’? Divine love is not like that.
We have become so habituated to equating love with emotion, with ‘feeling’, that we fail to grasp that keeping the commandments of God is an altogether better way, a higher road; and this precisely because doing the will of the beloved causes the lover to die to himself and to his feelings.
Jesus does not promise stirring emotions to those who keep his commandments, instead he promises knowledge. Keeping the commandments shifts the expression and experience of love from our hearts to our minds- a giant and necessary leap.
Those who keep his commandments come to ‘know’ him. As St John says (1Jn 2:4): We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments. Anyone who says, 'I know him', and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, refusing to admit the truth.
As the Lord himself testifies in Jn 8:55: I do know him, and I faithfully keep his word.
So let it be abundantly clear to us that keeping the commandments is our only guarantee that we both love and know God. Nothing else is ‘admissible evidence’ before the heavenly tribunal. Keeping his word is the narrow door through which we all must enter and if we attempt another way he will say: I do not know where you come from. Away from me … (Lk 13:25).
Let us conclude with a final observation. Jesus does not say: As the Father has loved me so I have loved the Father. Nor does he say: As I have loved you, so you must love me.
The love which Jesus receives from the Father he passes on to us, and commands us to pass it on to others so that we may plot the passage of divine love from the Father to the Son; from the Son to us; from us to others – to the glory of the Father.
Jesus who declares his love for us is himself much loved. We who declare our love for others can do so only because we ourselves are much loved. In the power of this love let us receive the final exhortation at Mass today: Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.