John 14; 23 – 29
Love is very powerful, which is probably why St. Paul describes love as the greatest of all gifts, and St. John in his epistles writes, “God is Love…” Out of love for one another people do simple and amazing feats, even sacrificing to the point of laying down one’s life for another. God shows us this in sending us his son and having his son lay down his life on the cross out of love for us. In the Gospel this week Jesus connects love with obedience. Jesus died for us out of obedience to his Father, and spoke several times of doing the “will of His Father.” When Jesus talks of love he talks about it in terms of totally trusting, including trusting in what he calls us to do?
This Gospel for is part of St. John’s Last Supper Discourse, which means that Jesus said this before his passion, death and resurrection. Jesus tells the apostles that he is going, and that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to instruct them. He senses that their hearts are troubled, and reassures them with the gift of peace. This instruction takes place between Jesus telling the apostles that, “whoever loves me will keep my word….”, and “If you love me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;” With Jesus love and obedience go hand in hand. This is something that we might find burdensome, but for Jesus obedience out of love brings peace and joy.
Obedience in our day tends to have a negative connotation. It is something that we have to do, even though we would rather not do it. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus asked the Father to “let this cup pass”, but he ends his plea with the affirmation of his love and obedience to the Father, “not my will, but your will be done.” Jesus acknowledges that at times obedience calls us to do things that we would rather not do, but if we do them out of love these things are not a burden but a beautiful act of love toward someone. It might help if we consider the relationships we are in, whether, it be marriage, family or friends. Think of the things that we would rather not do, but do out of love. The husband who spends a day with his wife shopping, the wife who goes to some sporting event because it means a lot to her husband. The son or daughter who go out with their parents for some family event, but would rather be with their friends. The friend who drags you to a movie that you are not really interested in, but you go because you are interested in spending time with your friend. All of these are things one might prefer not doing, but we do them out of love, because we are with people whom we love and we find joy in it.
Jesus tells us that; “he who loves me will keep my word.” If we are truly in a loving relationship with the Lord, we will be willing to do things that we would rather not do. This Gospel is not about obedience as much as it is about our relationship with the Lord. During these final two weeks of the Easter Season we are called to open our hearts more and more to the Lord in preparation for Pentecost. In doing so may we experience more the great love of our Risen Lord, and grow in our ability to love him more, in all that he calls us to do.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.