“Whoever loves me will keep my word”

Do you love Jesus? Today’s reading from John 14:23-29 gives us a couple of hints into what it means to love Jesus. It’s more than saying you’re saved or doing acts of penance.

Jesus said to his disciples:
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,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.”

Two things speak to me in this reading.

The first is the part I have used as a headline and italicized: “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” It is followed by: “and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling in him.” It is a call to listen to Jesus and heed His message with the result that the Son and the Father will be present in you.

The second is equally striking: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” It goes on to say: “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” Some would have this mean that Jesus gives a different kind of peace, but you could also read it to mean that He gives you a permanent peace, not one that is given then taken away, or one that is given with strings attached.

Jesus is one full of love. He often says that he is one with the Father, so as Jesus is full of love so is the Father, and as the Father is full of love so is Jesus. When we listen to Jesus, when we read His word – His full word, not some homogenized or subtexted form of it – and heed His word, when we take it into our hearts and take it into the world by our actions, the Father and Jesus will love us and dwell in us.

When the Father and the Son are present in us, they bring us peace. What kind of peace? Freedom from strife? Perhaps. But more likely the peace of love, the peace of forgiveness, the peace of hope, the peace of assurance, the peace of grace, the peace of knowing that there will be a place for us in His kingdom. If you have read the Gospels and felt a gentleness, a stillness, a lightness and a wellness in your soul, that too is the peace of Christ.

When we are troubled, we worry. We are anxious. Reading Jesus’ words can be calming. Can be reassuring. Knowing Jesus and the Father hear our hearts and our souls in angst can help bring peace to us. Imagine the Apostles hearing Jesus the Christ foretelling of the days to come of His crucifixion and death. They are confused and unsettled. But He tells them He brings them peace. They trust Him. So must we trust Him and thus receive His peace. And thus keep his word. And that is love.

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