A single mother is frantic. She has found a six-pack of beer in her 14-year-old daughter’s closet. When the daughter comes home from school, she confronts her, “Ok, Maria, what is this?” Her daughter replies, “It looks like a six-pack of beer to me Mom.” Her mother responds, “Don’t get smart young lady, tell me how you got it and explain.” Maria thought real fast and said, “Oh yea, I was keeping it for a friend.” “You expect me to believe that?” asked her Mother.
Maria gets mad, stomps off to her bedroom, and slams the door. Sound familiar? The mother calls her sister for advice. Her sister asks her, “Why were you so concerned with finding a six-pack in her closet?” The mother answered, “Because I know where it all can lead. I don’t want her to get into trouble.” Her sister replied, “I understand that, but why don’t you want her to get into trouble?
“Because I don’t want her to ruin her life,” the mother said. “I understand that,” the sister responded, “But why is it you don’t want her to ruin her life?” Finally, the mother got it. “Because I love her,” her mother replied. “Do you think she got that message?” her sister asked and continued, “What do you think would happen if you started with that message? If you were to start with-‘Honey I love you so much that I got really scared when I found the six-pack in your closet. Because I am really afraid you could get into trouble? Could we talk about it?’ Her sister finished sadly.
There is no ambiguity with Christ when it comes to love. So many people are caught up in false notions of God, a God of anger, a judge spying on people ready to pounce and to punish. A God of law. Concerned more with rituals and the sacrifice of animals and what to do or not to do on the Sabbath. Or else a God distant, far off, not interested in human condition and human suffering.
Jesus tells us in John’s gospel, “As the Father loved me, so I love you.” The whole theme of the gospel today is Christ’s love for us. A love so great that He never lets go of us, never gives up. In all of the world’s great religions, people seek God.
Christianity, however, introduces into the world an unexpected reversal. Christianity reveals a God who seeks us, a God who loves us for more than we love ourselves. Jesus came to reveal to each and every one of us the loving, compassionate, forgiving face of the Father. Jesus came to reveal the true face of God-A God of love, truth, and light. Sometimes we like to think, “God loves me because I am so dedicated and unselfish or because of my special qualities or my great personality.”
We do nothing to arouse, elicit or earn this Love of God. It was there before we existed. If God’s love was based on something and this something broke down, then the whole structure would collapse. Let us be grateful for the truth, that God’s love for us is based on nothing even when we sin. God’s love continues to carry us; He never gives up. However, as we all know actions speak louder than words.
He tells us in today’s gospel, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” He says it twice in today’s gospel. In other words, Love is measured more by what we do than by what we feel. Nevertheless, some obey Christ’s commands more out of fear than love. A religion based solely on fear of punishment or hope of reward tends to seek loopholes. How far can I go before I sin? How much can I steal before I sin gravely? How little can I give and still satisfy my Christian obligation?
On the other hand, a religion based on love seeks opportunities. What more can I do to help? Is there anything you need? Do not hesitate to call me at any time. Love seeks only to be of service. It finally comes down to, what is your relationship with God like? Is it based on fear or on love? Fear tends to paralyze, love releases.
Fear imprisons, love frees. Fear sours, love sweetens. Fear wounds, love heals. Fear avoids, love invites. St. Augustine said, “Love God and do what you want”. When you truly love, you will automatically do good.” Many years ago, we sang a hymn, “We are one in the spirit and one in the Lord.” The last line of that hymn was, “They will know we are Christian by our love.” The question is will they?