I do not know if we often think of love and commandments in the same sentence, but that happens in today’s gospel. “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” But as we read this, what comes to mind? What is the connection Jesus is trying to make between love and commandments? Is there something important for us to consider when we hear this?
We know about the importance of love in the life of faith. Jesus tells us the whole Law can be summed up by loving God and our neighbor as ourselves. He repeatedly uses parables and stories to help illustrate the importance of love in the life of a person of faith. Love means tending to the person who is unexpectedly robbed and injured. Love is a father welcoming back his very misguided son. Love means taking the form of a slave to care for the needs of others, both in belief and in action, such as washing feet.
But how is it that commandments fit in with this understanding? When we look at loving relationships we do not always think that all authentic loving relationships have rules and commandments. A couple deeply in love follows rules to treat the other with respect, with kindness, seeking the well-being of the other. A couple in deeply in love follows rules of forgiveness when actions and words hurt the other. Parents have rules for the children they love. And so too does our God have rules for us.