KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS
Sixth Sunday of Easter
First Reading: Acts 8: 5-8. 14-17. The Samaritans received the Gospel with lots of enthusiasm.
Second Reading: 1Peter 3: 15-18. Peter encourages Christians to remain steadfast under pressure in their following of Christ.
Gospel: John 14: 15-21. To love Christ is to listen to His word and to put them into practice in our life with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Many people obey God’s commandments out of fear of punishment in hell or hope of reward in heaven. They do not obey them for the reason Jesus gives in Today’s Gospel. They do not obey them out of love as Jesus says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
What commandments was Jesus talking about? Clearly Jesus was not talking about the Ten Commandments. What commandments then was he talking about? If we look at closely to the Gospel of today, we find some clues as to the answer. There in today’s Gospel, we find certain Do’s and Don’ts Jesus talked about. I can say, Jesus is giving us more of guidelines than commandments. Jesus is giving us new values on how to stay in the presence of God, new attitudes on how to live with the neighbour and with ourselves. Let us look at first the Don’ts found in today’s Gospel:
If you love me:
Do not return evil for evil. You want to be great and powerful in life? You want to be humbled and loved? Avoid retaliation. Nothing in this world is achieved by retaliation. Retaliation only brings darkness in one’s life.
Do not judge or condemn your neighbour. We live in a world of full of evil. When you neighbour commits evil. Do not jump quickly into judgement because you do not know all the facts that led your neighbour to commit that evil except God. Therefore, leave judgement to God. Then if you are not to pass judgement to your neighbour, neither are you to condemn him/her.
Do not store up treasures for yourself here on earth. Many people have turned their treasures here on earth to be their small gods: money, properties, cars, goods and so on. You hear a person calling his/her car, ‘my baby’. And when you look at the person’s arms, there’s no baby. And you wander if really this person will one day desire to have a real true baby. People do all sorts of jobs or dirty businesses just to become rich and travel the world. all these are like chaff in the eyes of God especially when we turned them to become our gods.
Do not look back once you have decided to follow Jesus. In our language as Catholics, we use often this word to those who do not come to Church anymore: ‘Lapse Catholics’. Why are you lapsed? Who or what made you run away from Church? If you love me, says the Lord, keep my commandments.
Do not give up hope when times are rough and tough. Our world is crossing a turbulent zone of rough and tough moments with the global pandemic of Covid-19. Nothing in your life will be like before. What do you do in moments like these? Keep on trusting in Jesus and in his Father. Remember that you are worth more than thousands of birds in the sky.
Let us now look at the Do’s.
If you love me:
Let the light of your goodness shine before people. As a Christian, you are the light of those around you. You need to help others around you to find the way of life. That’s the mission you received when you were baptised.
Love your enemies. I know that to be kind to those who do not like you is hard. But if you do this, you will be the salt of the earth as Christ commanded us.
Give generously and forgive those who sin against you. In our current situation of confinement or lockdown, many find it difficult to share with those who do not have enough. Remember the measure you give to others, will be the measure you receive from God. And if you forgive those who harm you, your Father in heaven will forgive your own sins.
Today’s Gospel, dear brothers and sisters, invites us to check our motives. Why do we obey Jesus’s commandments? do we do it more out of fear of punishment? Do we do it more out of hope for reward? Or do we do it more out of love for Jesus?
Let us love one another, the way Jesus has loved us. Then the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples. We can’t call ourselves Jesus’ disciples if we do not listen to his words and make an effort to live by them. Love seeks only to be of service. Amen.