Keep My Word

My mother told me the first word I uttered was WHY. I suspect that really was an exaggeration. However, I do remember that WHY was a word I used most often. And I remember my mother saying , “Because I said so”.

file0002129254397This has never been a very satisfactory answer for a child; we can imagine a teenager rolling the eyes in response. This answer doesn’t give any explanation for doing what is asked, but simply states a chain of command, a line of authority.

In today’s gospel Jesus’ desire that we keep his words functions something like a “Because I said so.” Extraordinary gifts are given to us if we keep his words. His words rest on the authority of himself, his Father, and the Holy Spirit. This is about as high that a chain of command, a line of authority can get. It all rests on “If you love[ ] me.” [Living Liturgy 2013]

To enable us to keep his word, Jesus promises us the gift of the Holy Spirit—through whom we are re-created as persons able to live and love as Jesus himself did. We are a new creation empowered to continue the mission of Jesus in peace and with fearlessness. To be created anew means that we share in the Life of the risen Lord—in a very real way, we share in Jesus’ very identity. Indeed, this is the gift of baptism: that we are made members of the Body of Christ. Only because we share in Jesus’ identity as members of his Body can we love as he does, truly keep his word, and carry on his saving mission.

The word of Jesus we are to keep is his command to love as he loves us. Jesus’ word, however, is not simply spoken—“Because I said so”—but is love-in-action. Our love-in-action flows from the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and teaching us to keep Jesus’ word-command to love. Our love-in-action is risen Life-made-visible. Jesus’ “Because I said so” is so much more than simply words.

We are able to fulfill Jesus’ word-command to love as he loves because the Holy Spirit dwell­ing within prompts us to total self-giving. The Holy Spirit prompts us, for example, to embrace the sick and the suffering, to be present to those in need, to ease the troubled heart, to bring peace in the midst of anxiety, to rejoice at the success of others, to believe in the goodness of others. As Jesus loves, so are we to love. Totally. This is what discipleship demands.