How to Celebrate Sixth Week of Easter
Jesus is sitting with HIs disciples at the table of the Last Supper. Yet, in the farewell speech to his disciples, Jesus was uncompromising when he explained the necessary connection between loving him and keeping his commandments:
‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’ (Jn 14:15).
In that speech, Jesus dealt with several other concerns. But he returned to the link between love and the commandments: ‘Anyone who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him’ (Jn 14:21).
The central commandment of Jesus’ teaching was to love God and love neighbor. That commandment summarized the basic moral behaviors and ritual practices that Jesus required from his disciples. Those behaviors and practices formed the charter of what it meant for them to live as his followers.
Jesus’ moral teaching is best summarized in the Sermon on the Mount (see Mt 5-7) or the Sermon on the Plain (see Lk 6) where he expands the Ten Commandments, making them more demanding. For example, the commandment not to kill is developed to prohibit undue anger with another person, and the commandment not to commit adultery is developed to prohibit even lustful thinking.
The ethical teaching of Jesus provides us with definite instructions for everyday living. It stresses the need for correct and respectful relationships with God and with one another. It teaches us that we cannot separate our relationship with God from our various relationships with other people. This means that we cannot have a straightforward vertical relationship with God without also having a horizontal relationship with God through our relationships with the people we meet in everyday life.
The teaching of Jesus offers us clear instructions to enable us to be faithful to God’s will. It summarizes what is required in order to live a wholesome life that reflects God’s truth and beauty. Its purpose is to rid our lives of selfishness and self-centeredness so that we can learn to put God and other people first, and ourselves last.
When our consciences are formed by Jesus’ teaching, we know the difference between right and wrong. Living according to his teaching ensures genuine happiness in this life and eternal happiness in heaven.
Adapted from John Littleton
Journeying through the Year of Matthew, Gospel Reflections.