[Excerpted from the May/June 2018 issue of Emmanuel. Barbara Shanahan is an alumna of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois. She has led the Buffalo, New York, Catholic Bible Studies Program since 1992.]
“As the Father has loved me, so I also love you”! How can we fathom this? Is Jesus saying, “I love you in the same way my Father loves me”? Does this give us any clear insight? Jesus’ words entice and perplex us. Then finally, words we can hold onto: “If you keep my commandments,” but he adds, “As I have kept my Father’s commandments . . . then you will remain in my love.” Comparing how we live our Christian life with the relationship between the Jesus and the Father can leave us sufficiently out of the realm of human understanding!
The simple statement “keep my commandments” is helpful, but what are these commandments? Having taught Scripture to adults for many years, the word commandment invariably calls to mind the Ten Commandments, etched on a plaque as if they just came down from God! As essential as these guidelines are to maintaining a state of order, is it the keeping of these ten commands that binds Jesus to the Father? Is this the way he carries out the Father’s will? Is this all that is demanded of him and of us? There has to be more to Jesus’ words! What are the “commandments” of the Father that Jesus kept that we must keep if we would resemble him in our faithfulness?
Psalm 40 may shed light. This psalm is also cited in the Letter to the Hebrews 10:5-10 when speaking of the obedience of Jesus to his Father. Psalm 40:7-9 says this:
You delight not in sacrifice and offerings,
but in an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and sin offerings.
Then I said, “Behold I have come.”
In the scroll of the book it stands written of me:
“I delight to do your will, O my God;
your instruction lies deep within me.”