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Our Response to His Command: The Sixth Sunday of Easter

Today, Jesus tells His disciples that they should keep God’s commandments.  The reason might surprise us.

Gospel (Read Jn 15:9-17)

In our Gospel, Jesus speaks to His disciples about the importance of their obedience to His Father’s commandments.  Sometimes discussions about obedience can seem like a warning, but not this one.  That’s because Jesus lays the groundwork for His followers to understand how their obedience is supposed to work.  First, He tells them of His love for them.  It is the same love the Father has for Him.  What stronger words could Jesus have used to make this point?  Before there is obedience, there is love.

Jesus uses His own life as an example to demonstrate this relationship between obedience and love.  The Father’s love is a fact, above and beyond everything else.  Jesus, as the loved Son, desires to remain in (not earn) that love.  He does this by obedience.  Human obedience to God is what keeps us in the love He freely offers to us.  The reason for that is simple.  God only requires of us behavior that will ultimately make us happy.  He only asks us to do what He originally designed us to do—live in His image and likeness.  Obedience to His commandments, then, is for our sake, not His.

Jesus makes this clear: “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.”  The call to obedience is a call to joy.  It is only the disruption of sin in us that twists obedience into something heavy, something to be dreaded as if it were a hindrance rather than a path to happiness.

Additionally, Jesus shows here that obedience is a response to love, not a way to earn it.  He wants His followers to live in love: “This is My commandment:  love one another as I have loved you.”  Soon, He will prove that love on the Cross: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Should we recall here that all but one of His friends fled from Him in His dark hour?  Their love failed; His didn’t.

Why didn’t Jesus give up on His fickle friends?  Why doesn’t He give up on us?  There can only be one answer—His love.  Something much bigger than their own steadiness is at work here: “It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you to go and bear fruit that will remain.”  His love was not based on their behavior.  He had already decided to love them, no matter what.  Why would He want to love that way?  Because both His divine and human natures were ordered to love unconditionally.

And so is ours.  That is why Jesus gives us the commandment to follow His example: “This I command you:  love one another.”  To love the undeserving gives Jesus joy.  Here, He is simply laying out for His disciples (and for us) the path to joy.  Will we follow Him on it or not?

Possible response:  Lord Jesus, please help me remember that in every contact I have with any person anywhere, love comes first.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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