To Live Is To Love In Christ Jesus

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Easter-6A, 21 May 2017
Acts 8:5-8,14-17//1Peter 3:15-18//John 14:15-21

“If you love me…” is one of the phrases we sometimes dread to hear from our beloved because what follows next
is always a demand to prove that love. While it is true that love is best expressed in actions than words, love never demands. Love is about giving and sharing, not about obtaining and having like when we say “if you love me, you will do this or give this to me.” That is actually a threat against people we love and who love us, betraying true love. Love is always a desire to be like the one we love, to be one with him or with her. This is the reason why Jesus became human like us so that in turn we may become like Him who is love Himself! Indeed, love is our true destiny that before going through His pasch, Jesus said to His disciples at Last Supper, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 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.” (Jn.14: 15,21)

This is one of the high points of the farewell discourse of Jesus Christ found only in the Gospel according to St. John. Aside from showing us the full dimension of the communion of Jesus and the Father we have heard last week, it speaks well also of our union in Him in life and in love. Following His line of thought from last week when He spoke about eternal life, Jesus today shows us that this communion or being one with Him and the Father in life is through love. This love happens when we keep His commandments. But, which of His commandments must we keep? In the course of His preaching, Jesus taught so many things, telling people to “do this”, “do not do that”, and always “remember”. Before ascending into heaven, He told the 12 to teach the people “to observe all that I have commanded you.”(Mt.28:20) In this farewell discourse, Jesus repeated this instruction to keep His commandments six times to inscribe it in the hearts and minds of His disciples (cf. Jn. 14:15,21,23; 15:10,12,17) without really telling them which of these commandments we must keep. The evangelists did not bother to codify the Lord’s commandments like in the Old Testament because the Christians might be so focused with the letters of the teachings of Jesus than their spirit. But on deeper reflections, we realize that Jesus Himself is the rule of life of every disciple. He is, after all, the commandment Himself we must keep and observe for He is “the way and the truth and the life.”(Jn.14:6)

When Jesus said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” it was more of an invitation than a demand to live in Him, to live out His very life because that is the only way to truly live and truly love. He would elaborate on this further in the following chapter when He claims “I am the True vine and you are the branches.”(Jn.15:1ff) Before we can truly love or as we have reflected last week, “level up our love in Christ,” we have to live in Christ which is to love Him in others. Like St. Paul to the Philippians, to live is to love in Christ Jesus. Life is a call to live with others and that is love. No one sees the meaning of life in one’s self but always in relation with others. And there is no one greater than Jesus Christ in whom we all find our fulfillment as persons. Let me share you three instances when we keep the commandments of Jesus and love Him truly.

First is when we live in God in prayers. When we love a person, we always talk and spend time with him or with her, always having time with them. The same is true with our love for God: if we love God, then, we must always be with Him, even without speaking because praying is simply being with Him.

Second is when we live in a life of total abandonment in God. This is easier said than done but it is one of the sure signs of a healthy prayer life. Praying opens us up to God which leads us to abandoning everything in Him. In the first reading, we heard how Philip, one of the seven deacons chosen last week to care for the Hellenists, preached and converted the Samaritans into Christianity. How did it happen? The Christians were then being persecuted in Jerusalem and many of them have fled up north into Samaria and the rest of Asia and Europe. Life was very difficult and even harsh for them but it became an opportunity for them to spread the new faith to the rest of the world. The Portuguese people have a saying that, “God writes straight crooked lines.” Sometimes, our failures and difficulties in life, even sins, can be occasions for God to work on His blessings to us. We have to grow in faith in Him by setting aside our own agenda in life to let Him direct our lives into fulfillment and fruitfulness. When we abandon our lives to God, then we begin to experience His many wonderful surprises.

Third is when we live for others. It is very ironic that while St. Peter was writing his letter which we have heard in the second reading, the Church was undergoing persecutions in Rome at that time. Yet, here is the prince of the Apostles reminding the early Christians to be always kind with others, telling them “it is better to suffer for doing good.”(1Pt.3:17) A person who truly loves is one who loves others more than himself. A friend posted last week a very beautiful quotation on his FB that says, “a man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” Simply forget yourself and love, love, love! St. Mother Teresa said that the true measure of love is when you love without measure. When we forget ourselves and think more of others, that is when we truly love Jesus and keep His commandments. That is also when we feel truly loved by Him and eventually by others around us. May you and your loved ones be filled with the love of Jesus this week! Amen.
Fr.Nicanor F. Lalog II,
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista,
Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan

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