In today’s gospel passage from John, without having to pull rank, Jesus also acts toward his disciples as a good and kind parent who foresees the future need their children. So, because he knows that soon enough they will undergo the shock of their lives, when Jesus undergoes his passion and he disappears from their sight, and that they will all feel helpless, afraid, and confused, Jesus gives them something to do, something to be: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Our Lord knows full well that their expectations of him will be overturned when he is betrayed, arrested, subjected to trial, and put to death. He knows that because they have human hearts, not stony hearts, they will feel abandoned, and vulnerable, like sheep without a shepherd. Or like a child without a parent.
Jesus, caring for them to the end, fills the void, showing them that what really matters in the long run is what nothing or no one can overturn or take or steal from us, that which ultimately satisfies all our human hungers and thirsts: Love; but not just any love: His love, the love that will stop at nothing to ensure that we all have this Love—and have it in abundance. This love which our Lord Christ teaches the disciples, the love he offers them and wants them to learn, is the love that God the Father has planted in our hearts and that bears fruit, if we want it to, if we allow it to, if we submit to it and trust that Love is of God and only of God.
In families, which are domestic churches, the hallmark, the ultimate sign of love is mutual obedience, a sacrificial, humble love. In the name of love, parents submit to their children, and to their children’s needs, and love them in good times and in bad, and even after their children become adults, never stopping caring for them. And children submit to parents, first out of a sense of obligation because they are young, but then, as they grow into themselves, they submit to parents, and choose to obey them, out of a sense of deep love and respect for their parents.
Jesus, too, gives his disciples a choice: To keep his commandments, and therefore, to love one another in a real, concrete way. Jesus, who will soon make the ultimate choice to give his up life so that he can lead others to God, is showing them how to love: Not in words but in practice. Not with ideas, nor with notions, but in acts of mercy, kindness and humility.
In our modern, individualistic, materialistic times, we adults or children are sometimes seduced by society away from the true path of love, the true path of happiness. Society promises us instant gratification, instant love, instant individuality and uniqueness. Society even tells us how to put ourselves out there so that others can know we are here in the world. And that is what some of our children will grow up believing love is, about reassuring the self, exalting the self, showing off the self, unless parents show them that true love need not posture itself to be love, it need not advertise itself to be love. And because the world’s idea of love is not true love, because it is something made by society to feel like love, and look like love, but with neither sacrifice nor obedience, with no tolerance nor compassion, this quasi-love never satisfies us a person. In fact, the more we feed our sense of false love, the more it wants, the more it separates itself from others and their needs. Because quasi-love, has no need for mercy, kindness, obedience, nor humility.
Whereas, true love, the love of God, the love of Christ Crucified and Resurrected, though it has no need to suffer, and no need to look to suffer, and no need to lose nor to be forgotten, will never walk away from, evade, or deny suffering, if it is for the benefit of others; if it will save others; if it will heal them, and wake them to the light of Christ himself, the light of the Father, and of the Spirit.
May love, the Love of our Christ, and the love of the Father, bring us into the transforming Divine presence of the Spirit, so that the Spirit can advocate for us that we will do as Jesus did, love with all our heart, all our mind, and all our strength. This way, as a true family of love, we will be one, for what God has joined in love, nothing can divide.