In last Sunday’s Gospel we hear Our Lord say:
If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me, does not keep My words. And the word that you have heard is not Mine, but the Father’s Who sent Me.
This talk of words [speech], hearing, obedience and acting brought to mind a couple of chapters of the Holy Rule, specifically the opening Prologue and Chapter V.
I was immediately reminded of:
Listen carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.
One could almost say that these opening words were those of Christ Himself: He is the Master (Jn 13:13) and father of all baptized, they being the fruit of His nuptial embrace on the Cross with His mystical bride, the Church; He asks His children to obey Him so that we may return to the Father Who loves mankind. He requires of us the faith of a child (Mt 18:3), to trust as a child trusts in their parents. As the eyes of the servant are upon their master’s hands, so too are those of the child on their parents’. Children tend to listen to and watch their parents (even if most of the times it doesn’t seem like it), and end up emulating them.
I recalled as well:
The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. […] And so as it were at the same moment the master’s command is given and the disciple’s work is completed, the two things being speedily accomplished together in the swiftness of the fear of God by those who are moved with the desire of attaining life everlasting.
This acting without delay is intimately linked, I think, with what was said about “carrying out effectively” the “loving father’s advice”. It demonstrates trust in him commanding of love from him obeying. There is no second guessing, no trying to read ulterior motives, or preferring one’s own opinions or preferences; there is simply submitting the will trustingly.
When speaking about us keeping His words and the Father coming to dwell with us, Our Lord is saying nothing new; rather, He is simply reminding us of what was already said back in the Pentateuch:
If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. […] Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. (Lev 26)
This pericope on Pentecost reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit Who gives us the sevenfold gifts to help us know and keep His word.
Christ is very emphatic about this point. There can be no loving Him in word only, and not in deed. Many of us say that we have faith, but it is a vain, empty faith that does not translate into anything. Etymologically, the word “faith” comes from the Latin “fide”. It implies, as does “credo”, something more than a mere intellectual assent; there is an “active” element to it; it “demands”, as it were, acts, concrete manifestations of that belief. Perhaps one of the best examples, if not the best, that can be given is that of Our Blessed Mother and her “fiat”. Blessed Mary believed, kept His Word, and the Word made His abode with(in) her.
If, for example, I tell my wife that I love her a thousand times a day, but then I flirt with other women, indulge in pornography, commit adultery, etc., what is to be said of my supposed love for her? If I tell her I love her, but do not keep the vows we exchanged on our wedding days, what does that say about my love for her? Does it not make a mockery of it? If that is so in relation to my wife, even more so with God.
How can I say I love God, Who I do not see, yet not love my brother who I can see? I profess one thing with my mouth while I deny it with my actions. I may say “Lord, Lord”, but if I do not do the will of the Father (i.e., keep the commandments), then I will not enter the Kingdom. How many times throughout one single day do I not keep His word? How many times do I say “yes, I know I should do this” but then rationalize my not doing it, finding a number of extenuating circumstances? How many times throughout the day am I not humble; how many times am I disobedient? Or how many times do I delay acting on His word, and then do so even begrudgingly? How many times do I intentionally not hear His word? Do I really love?