Jesus stands beside us

By Vinal Van Benthem | May 22, 2014

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Usually when we think of commandments we think of the Ten Commandments, but those commandments are found in the Old Testament. Jesus’ commandments to his disciples, and that includes us, don’t tell us what not to do; Jesus’ commandments tell us what we are to do — to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves. And if we truly love Jesus we will want to keep his commandments.

But then Jesus tells us that he is in his Father, and we are in him, and he is in us. Does that mean that Jesus is in everyone? Even my neighbor? The one with the three dogs who leave their “souvenirs” in the backyard and bark at anything that moves? Should I knock on her door, explain the problem and try to reason with her? Or should I just call the police and let the dog catcher deal with her? After all, I have the right to sit in my own backyard, don’t I? But, then, letting my anger get out of control is only going to put more stress on my body, and making myself sick is doing violence to myself, not loving myself.

This kind of loving is complicated. Maybe that’s why Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to be with you …” What would happen if, before I decided to take my neighbor to court, I took a minute to pray to the Holy Spirit? After all, managing one’s anger doesn’t have to mean backing down, think of Jesus facing the money changers in the Temple. On the contrary, it can be a very positive step toward loving God above all and loving my neighbor as myself.

“Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Jesus promised not to leave us orphans. That’s how much he loves us. Just ask, he’ll be standing right there next to you when you knock on that door.

Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.

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