6th Sunday of Easter [B]
May 9, 2021
Jesus gave His disciples the new commandment: to love one another as Jesus has loved them. The question may be raised: why another law? The Bible possesses a lot of laws and regulations. In the Old Testament alone, they are hundreds of regulations that are still effective for the Jews until now. The Church also has many laws concerning different aspects of Christian people from how to properly participate in the Eucharist to how to elect a pope. Aside from the Bible and the Church, we have many other laws to follow.
No wonder that often we see laws and regulations as burdens on our shoulder and restrictions to our freedom. For some, obedience to the law is sign of weakness, and breaking the rules is an achievement. However, if we investigate a bigger perspective and delve into the purpose of law, we shall discover that laws are not horrendous as it may seem. At least, there are three purposes of law.
Firstly, the law helps us to grow. The commandments may be restrictive, but they form and educate us. Just try to imagine that in a soccer game, there is no regulation on ‘hand ball’. Consequently, players will not only touch the ball, but keep it to themselves. It ceases to be a soccer game! With this simple and basic rule, players are ‘forced’ to use their feet to control the ball. This pushes players to train hard to master the skills, and hopefully turn to be world-class players. As children, we are trained to be punctual by following schedule, both in homes and schools. This simple rule does not mean to restrict our children, but to teach a disciple as well as to learn the value of time.
Secondly, the law saves us. The commandments may limit our movements, but they are for our safety. Just try to imagine that in a soccer game, a hard tackle is not a violation. Players will start punching and kicking one another, and it’s a matter of seconds before a riot begins. It ceases to be a soccer game! With this rule, players will be mindful of the harm they can cause, and yet, they can continue enjoying the game because no one is injured or hurt.
These two elements of law are also present in the commandment of love. The law of love forms us to be more loving persons. The real love is tough, even to love someone who are dear to us. It is hard to forgive, even our close friends. it is difficult to make daily sacrifices for our children and family members. It is not easy to be patient with people we serve in the community or the Church. Yet, if we choose to keep the commandment, we grow to be a more loving person. Love turns to be our second nature and we love spontaneously. If God is love, then we become God-like each day.
The law of love saves us. St. John of the Cross once said, “in the twilight of our lives, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.” Heaven is where the perfect love is, and to achieve that perfection, we need to build it gradually here on earth. The more we obey the commandment, the more loving we are, the more the heaven opens for us. Love saves us for the eternal bliss.
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP