Fr. John’s Letter – 17th May 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’

Today we have arrived at the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The Great Season of Easter is moving towards its end. Jesus continues to speak to his disciples in today’s Gospel. He mentions two words in the same sentence which we don’t often see together; ‘Love’ and ‘Commandments’. This seems somewhat strange to the modern mind. Surely, love is all that is required. If we love, then commandments and rules are surely somewhat irrelevant?

I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. This question was at the heart of our culture. The massive reaction against authority in the wake of two world wars marked the world view of so many. It seemed to be a golden age of fellowship and community.  Now, it seems we have moved from a culture of ‘we’ to a culture of ‘I’.  What went wrong?

Human love is beautiful, but frail. It is capable of great things but is easily distracted. The love of which Jesus speaks is not frail or fickle. It is the very life of God. It takes human love and makes it capable of so much more. The life of God fills us and completes us.

Only when we begin to understand what it means to be loved by God, can we talk about His commandments.  God never orders us, cajoles or threatens us. He does not intimidate or frighten us. He invites us. He draws us to Himself. He loves us even when we cannot or will not return His love.

So what are the commandments of which Jesus speaks? He gave us one; a new commandment.  ‘Love one another as I have loved you’. To love God and our neighbour is simply an invitation to look beyond ourselves and discover the joy of being loved by God and sharing that love with others.

Easier said than done? Certainly! The struggle to allow God’s love to seize hold of my poor love is lifelong. But how wonderful when it manages to break through! Little by little, God’s love takes hold of us and grows in us. The commandment to love becomes a little easier.

Open these hearts that you have made Lord and make them capable of love that flows from you, a love that looks beyond self and desires to give itself and spend itself for others.

May God bless you all,

Father John