Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
The Gospel today begins with Jesus saying: if you love me, you will keep my commandments. It ends with: the one who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me. With this, Jesus makes clear what it means to love him: to keep his commandments. How do we keep his commandments? The word keep in Greek means to keep watch or keep an eye, to guard from loss. It means we are not only to obey it, but make sure the commandments are preserved and not corrupted. While we strive to obey Jesus, we will fail to obey him because this is just human nature. However, as long as we keep watch of the commandments, we are aware we have not kept it and can turn back to him. This turning back is repentance and it is the process where our sins are forgiven. The One who forgives is Jesus and the One who makes this happen is the Holy Spirit whom Jesus describes as another advocate because Jesus is also an advocate.
Why would I want to keep the commandments of Jesus? Jesus tells us at the end of the Gospel: the one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. The only way to know Jesus is when he reveals himself and the only way for this to happen is when we keep watch of his commandments. And when we keep watch of his commandments, we will be persecuted as Peter says. And Peter says it is better to suffer for doing good than to suffer for doing evil so those who speak evil of us, who accuse us falsely may be put to shame. By saying this, Peter implies, we will suffer when we follow Jesus. There is no need to look for suffering.
Yet, when we keep watch of God’s commandment, the Spirit is with us and with this, he bears fruit in our works just as Philip did in the First Reading. He was in Samaria and he proclaimed the Christ. With this proclamation, he performed many signs that caused people to believe and be baptized. This is the proof whether we keep the commands of Jesus or not. The signs do not need to be great miracles and cure, but these could be within ourselves. Are we cured of our anger, of our resentments, of our guilt and shame? Does our life draw us closer to Jesus. Am I more sensitive to what Jesus wants? Am I growing in my relationship with the Christ?
These are the signs we need to look at within ourselves. However, just as the Apostles were sent to investigate what is happening in Samaria, we need to submit ourselves to the Church to confirm if we are growing or not. I cannot assume my assessment of myself is right. I need someone who will speak the Truth to me to tell me how it is. I do not have a perfect view of ourselves, in fact, I cannot trust my assessment of myself because there is a tendency to be less critical or over critical of myself. I need someone to guide me and direct me. Some may say the Holy Spirit will show me the Truth. Yes, but the First Reading shows, God uses others, like Peter and John to pray over the people so they can receive him. God could have just revealed to the Samaritans the good news, yet, Philip had to proclaim Christ to them. While God can work directly to us, he normally uses other people to guide us. And as Catholics, we believe he uses the Church in the person of her ministers and members to guide us.
The Psalm tells us: come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me. This commands us to speak what God has done for us. Part of this is to proclaim Christ. As Catholics, we are called to keep an eye on the commandments of Jesus. This is part of it. We need to speak out the things God has done for us: his forgiveness and healing when we fail to obey his commandments.
Are you suffering for something that is not your fault? Jesus calls you to come to him, keep an eye at his commandments. He invites you to allow him to love you so he can reveal himself to you and so you can be healed. Do you want Jesus to come to your life? When he comes, he will proclaim freedom to you, he will heal you, he will love you and most importantly, he will reveal himself to you. It does not matter what you have done before, before Jesus sees you as a child of God, who is precious.
Lord, I come to you, because I want to know you. I want to love you as you are. Reveal yourself to me. Help me to keep watch of your commands, to guard it with my whole being, that I may love you. Come to my life, and take it Lord, break it, bless it and give me a life that is filled with your life. Send me your Spirit so I may live my life with power to obey you, to fix my eyes on your commands, and give glory to your name.