If you love Me you will keep my Commandments

Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

“If you love me you will keep my commandments,” says Jesus to us today (John 14:15). We could say that is a very strong statement by Jesus. Does this mean that every time we sin we do not love Jesus? Yes. Although we love Jesus, every time we commit sin we love something or someone else more than Jesus. If we love Jesus more than anything else we will keep ourselves free from sin for Jesus. If we love Jesus we will strive to give ourselves totally to him. When we sin we are giving ourselves to something other than Jesus or to somebody other than Jesus. And when we love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and strength we will not want to put anything, no matter how small, before Jesus. Again the words of Jesus in our Gospel are, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Sometimes we hear people make statements like, “Jesus understands that I am human. He will forgive me.” Jesus is forgiving, we do not doubt Jesus’ mercy. But if we love Jesus more than anything we will put Jesus before whatever it is that is tempting us and we will try to root that sin out of our lives completely.

Loving Jesus therefore is not just something emotional; loving Jesus means changing our lives, reforming our lives, working on our personalities and characters, overcoming sinful habits, stretching ourselves to love as Jesus loved. Loving Jesus means thinking about ourselves and others as Jesus thinks. Where does your information about yourself and others and the world come from? If it comes only from TV and a materialistic western culture which does not understand the difference between freedom to sin and the freedom to do what is right our minds may be contaminated by false images of ourselves, others and the world. But if we truly want to love Jesus we will fill our minds with his thoughts and his way of looking at the world. We can fill our minds with Jesus’ thoughts by reading the Bible, reading spiritual books and praying as much as possible every day. If we fill our minds with the filth of the world how can we love Jesus? It would be impossible and it would be impossible to keep his commandments. Let us fill our minds with the thoughts of Jesus so that we may love him and keep his commandments.

Again the words of Jesus are, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) We cannot have both a pure love of Jesus and sin in our lives at the same time. As Jesus said in Matt 6:24, we cannot be the slave of two masters. Truly loving Jesus leads us to give up whatever in our lives draws us away from Jesus. Truly loving Jesus leads us to making changes in the way we live and think and act. Sinning is putting Jesus in second place but when we love Jesus we put Jesus in first place and so we will keep his commandments. How do we know if we love Jesus? Look at the way we live our lives. Do we live as Jesus asks? Do we live as Jesus asks us through the Church’s teaching? If we do, then we know that we love Jesus. But if we say we love Jesus and yet continue to think or act in a way that is the opposite of Jesus then we see that we do not put Jesus in first place, we do not truly love Jesus because we do not keep his commandments. And if we truly love Jesus and do not understand the Church’s teaching on an issue, our love of Jesus will prompt us to probe and learn until we understand why the Church teaches what she does so that we will not cause pain to Jesus by not keeping his commandments. So for some, loving Jesus may mean humbly walking the way of trust until clearer understanding comes.

When we keep the commandments not only do we love Jesus but we also have the love of God in us. At the end of our Gospel excerpt today we heard,

Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them
will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I shall love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)

So loving Jesus and keeping his commandments fills us with the love of Jesus and the love of the Father, and in our hearts we see Jesus. When we love Jesus and keep his commandments we have Jesus in our hearts. Sin kills the life of God in us, serious sin kills the life of God in us in a serious way. Whenever the life of God is lacking in us it is not God’s fault, it is ours. It is not God who sends us to Purgatory, we send ourselves to Purgatory because if our soul is impure we would be blinded by the pure light of God’s love and we need to purify ourselves to be able to enjoy the vision of God in heaven. God does not send anyone to hell, anyone who goes to hell does so because they have chosen to totally reject the love of God. But, in the words of our Gospel today,

Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them
will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I shall love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)

How much does Jesus love us? This much [stretching out arms], he stretched out his arms on the cross and died for us. Let us never be afraid to turn to Jesus for mercy after sinning, he is always waiting to forgive us and restore us again. Let us resolve during this Mass to love Jesus by keeping his commandments so that the love of Jesus and the Father and the Spirit may be in our hearts and we may have Jesus in our hearts.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

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