In today’s Gospel Our Lord reminds us that there is a difference between love and obligation, but that both love and obligation support each other when one or the other comes under fire. Jesus teaches that we remain in his love by keeping his commandments, just as he’s kept his Father’s commandments. If a parent or a spouse commands you to do something, something that may be difficult for you, love is often the reason in the end that you do it. And in a society where family life comes under fire and is not supported as it should be, and marriages face trials daily not just for difficulties between the spouses themselves, sometimes in a moment when you’re thinking of giving up it is remembering the obligation of marriage that your love led you to freely take upon yourself in a brighter moment that keeps you going forward.
Obligation helps us remember that love is not just feeling good. Any parent who gets up at 3:00 AM to change their infants diapers knows that, or a son or daughter who cares for an elderly and ailing parent. Reminding yourself of your obligations is something that you can hold onto in order to regain your footing in a tough moment. We also know that love goes beyond just obligation or it can become pretty miserable. That’s why we must always remind ourselves that we fulfill our obligations out of love. Some of them have their origin in love–marriage, childhood, consecrated life, ordination–but they’re all a response to a love we have received due to no merits of our own. That’s especially true in fulfilling the commandments of God: we obey God as Our Lord, Our Heavenly Father, out of love and gratitude for all the love he has lavished upon us.
Let’s freshen up our love toward God and neighbor today by remembering all the love we’ve received, and fulfilling lovingly our duties and obligations toward God and others.
Readings: Acts 15:7–21; Psalm 96:1–3, 10; John 15:9–11.