Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

The commandments and love

Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”… “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. Jn 14,21-26

The first approach to these verses of the gospel binding love with the observance of the commandments – between us and the Lord Jesus and, consequently, between the Father and us – is not of the best ones. It seems quite an impact. A father who just loves those who keep His commandments seems to be more a dictator than a father, and this would sound unacceptable and in contrast with the concept that God is “love”, “mercy” and “forgiveness”. It is then necessary to find the key to understand these verses which, despite their apparent simplicity, are quite hermetic, because they seem to contradict the attributes of the Father about which Jesus Christ talks. The key that we have found opens the mystery to us with two turns. The first one opens up for us the mysterious plan of creation, in which the man, as a free being, had in himself the possibility of being lost or become godlike. This design was well explained by Pico della Mirandola who, in his Speech on the Dignity of Man, shows the Creator in the moment when he entrusts nature to man’s dominion, reminding him however that, unlike other living beings, he has not got features already set  by his nature, but he is left free. Man, Pico adds, could have chosen to rise to heights similar to those of the angels or lower himself to the level of brutes. And we well know how, throughout history, the two choices alternated each other between the depths of cruelty and peaks of holiness. The second turn of our reading key opens our heart to God’s plan of salvation for men and the whole creation. It is the parable of the lost sheep which enlighten us about the love strategy of this plan. Throughout the history of salvation, God goes in search of man, just like the shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep and, in this work, He engages himself to the point that he offers his own Son on the cross, showing himself as the God of “love”, of “mercy” and “forgiveness”. Of the three, however, “love” is the feature that has existed since the beginning, the other ones were born later, during the development of the project of salvation, as manifestations of that first love.

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