Love and Commandments
“If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have perfectly observed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love…”
Since God and Christ have taken the initiative in love, only one question faces the disciple: how to remain in unchanging charity? Jesus explains—by observing the commandments. The Septuagint had already taught that agape and fidelity are correlatives, if not synonyms. To love God is to belong to him exclusively, to serve him and obey him. In saying, “Observe my commandments,” Jesus is calling on the personal charity of the disciples; you will live in my love by loving me in return with the true and effective love of fidelity and union of wills.
The words “precept” and “commandment” are ambiguous in that they stress constraint and obligation, but the example of The Lord—which proves that this fidelity is not impossible or superhuman—makes their meaning clearer.
According to John 4:34 and 8:29, Jesus had only one desire, to do his Father’s will; he did exactly what would please God. His whole life was directed by the agreement of their wills, in the smallest details as well as in the supreme sacrifice (Luke 22:42), and that is why the Father loved him (John 10:17) and why Jesus remains for ever in his love (the verb meno is in the present). Obedience is the expression and manifestation of love.
Far from imposing too heavy a burden on his disciples (1 Jn 5:3), The Lord is telling them the secret of his pure and simple joy: “I have told you this, that my joy may be yours, and your joy may be perfect” (John 15:11). Jesus gives the example of perfect charity. Not only does his love abide in the love of the Father, not only does it root itself there, prove itself (John 13:1), and give itself for ever to the disciples, but also it reveals to them how they can love in their turn in response to his kindness. Going further, it reveals its most intimate secrets.