Fr Nigel’s Homily: Jesus says to us “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
How does one explain love? When I was a lot younger, it probably meant the tingling feelings that I had whenever I saw her. Sometimes, yes, even the paralysis that, believe it or not, silenced me when she was around. And let’s not forget that wonderful nervous-but-excited feeling when that person was near. How I tried to do everything I could to be with the person, just short of stalking! I’m sure many of you have felt something similar – you all have your own personal stories. Later, I understood that for me this feeling was one of infatuation. Yet, it is an experience that has helped me in my journey to understand the depths of God’s Love for us.
There are so many ways we experience love: being in love, loving and caring for someone; consolation and commitment of love given and received. All of us have experienced love in some way or another through family, friends and strangers. Sometime ago I baptised a baby girl and I asked her young mother how motherhood was going for her after the birth of her daughter. Her face lit up and she said, “I never knew I could love someone so much. Every part of my being loves her–I cannot explain it.” How beautiful! How loving! A brief glimpse of how much God loves us.
Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth..”
What that young mother was experiencing was unconditional, encompassing love. A pure love that only looks for the good of the other. Of course, this doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be worry and sleepless nights! ‘Why is the baby crying?’, ‘Why is the baby not crying?’ Many of you have interesting stories to tell about raising children – of headache and heartbreak! Yet all was forgiven because love surpasses everything.
There is also another, challenging side of Love. What about the people we find hard to get along with, who make us feel uncomfortable, who don’t share our views, who hurt us and betray us, who don’t understand us, whom we don’t have to social distance from but wished we could, who we find hard to forgive?
Once again, it is easy to love someone who loves you, but it’s quite another to love someone who is happy to see the back of you. Jesus’ command to love contains a critical clause: “remain in my love!”
This love calls us to go beyond the easy, to curtail what is natural and love what may seem unlovable, to be kind to those who trouble us, to do good to those who hate us, to forgive those who hurt us, to forgive those who won’t forgive us.
That command—love and forgive your enemies—is central to being a follower of Jesus, We follow the commandment to love, not by how we respond to those who love us, but by how we respond to those who hate us, annoy us and are downright hostile toward us. That is the tough reality of Jesus’ command to love and, if we are honest, we often fall short of the mark. Let us try to remain in God’s Love.