To Love God Above All Else

On the Gospel of John 14:15-21

6th Sunday of Easter

“If you love me you will keep my commandments”. For those of us who are not perfect, these words of Jesus sound harsh! We know that we are not perfect in keeping the commandments, we know that we are sinners, but does that mean we do not love Christ? We feel that we love God, but we have a hard time keeping all the commandments. We’d like to know the secret to always being able to keep the commandments so that we could grow closer to God.

Jesus is telling us the secret of how to keep the commandments. Luckily for us, Jesus does not expect us to be able, by ourselves, to always keep His commandments. He tells us that He will give us the ‘Spirit of truth’, to help us; we will not be left spiritual orphans left to fend for ourselves.

What Jesus wants us to understand – “the secret of success”, we can call it, is that our spiritual life is not about making up a list of all our faults and failings and systematically trying to work our way down the list, scratching off our various faults and failings each time we think we’ve eliminated them by our efforts. Rather, we are called, first and foremost, to have a relationship with God: with the Father, with Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit. We are called to love God above all else, and to endeavour with our whole lives to love Him. As we grow in this love, we will find ourselves, gradually more and more able to “keep the commandments”, because breaking them will interest us less and less, and because as we grow in love, we become stronger.

We are called to have a relationship with God. That God who by baptism comes to dwell inside us. We call this relationship with God, our “interior life”. We have this “Spirit of truth”, because Jesus has given Him to us in our Baptism. Furthermore, because of Jesus, we can have a relationship with the Father. The greater our love for God, the greater is our ability to keep the commandments.

Our relationship with God is not something that we suddenly wake up one day and find that we love God perfectly and therefore never break his commandments. If that were true we would not need Confession – we’d simply need to be baptised and then God would dwell in us and we’d be perfect. Relationships are not usually like that; relationships develop and grow over time. The spiritual life is a dynamic relationship moving towards greater love of, and union with God, not a static event that enables us to carry out, perfectly, a list of rules and regulations. So let us pay attention to our interior life, and seek to love God above all else and to love our neighbours as ourselves. If we do this, we will keep the commandments.

 

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments. I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you. I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you. In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see that I live and you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.’

– John 14:15-21

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