One of the most spiritually destructive ideas that has infected the world is the fallacy of claiming to love Jesus Christ while at the same time ignoring and even rejecting the commandments and the teachings of the Church.
This is like professing to love another person’s voice but to hate his words. It is a superficial outlook. The real test and testimony of our love for another lies in our acceptance of what the one we love holds dear. Authentic love means cherishing and honoring what the one we love cherishes and honors, so long as it contributes to our true good.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” Jesus tells us in this week’s Gospel passage. This is not an ultimatum but a simple statement of fact: Anyone who truly loves Jesus will obey the Eternal Law because of the way that the Law of God enables us to make the love of God real in our lives. The Lord’s commandments in particular, the Ten Commandments are a gift from God by which we can measure what we love most in life. For the sad reality is that human beings love sin. We hesitate to give up sin because we doubt we can find anything else that gratifies us as much as we think sin does.
The commandments of the Lord make it clear how much, left to ourselves, we would fall in love with idolatry, impiety, disobedience, violence, sensuality, stealing, dishonesty and covetousness. Thus, we need the commandments in order to purify our love for Jesus. As our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, once wrote, the Ten Commandments “save man from the destructive force of egoism, hatred and falsehood. They point out all the false gods that can draw him into slavery.”
The commandments provide us with a way to assess whether we are living for ourselves or living in and for Christ Jesus. Keeping the commandments frees us from the too-often empty and illusory promises of a secularized world that has lost sight of the vocation to which all human beings are called: life forever in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In this light, we can begin to see that the commandments are not something imposed on us from the outside. Rather, the commandments illuminate the truth about ourselves: that we are invited, by God Himself, to a loving surrender to the Father through Christ Jesus in the Holy Spirit. That is why Jesus promises, in our Gospel passage, that “I will not leave you orphans.” He promises to send “another Advocate, to be with you always.” The Person of the Holy Spirit is with us always to empower us to love and to fulfill the personal law of God.
The Holy Spirit comes and remains with us in order to engender within us a filial trust in the Lord and the certainty of being loved by Him. Then, filled with the light of truth, we can embrace and live the Gospel freedom that comes to us through the blessing of the Lord’s commandments: the freedom to love, the freedom to choose what is good in every situation, even when doing so is difficult. And what results from our observance of His commandments is the promise of Jesus, “Whoever has My commandments and observes them is the one who loves Me. And whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.”
Fr. De Ladurantaye is director of the Office of Sacred Liturgy, secretary for diocesan religious education, a professor of theology at Notre Dame Graduate School and in residence at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Virginia.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)