There are several times in the Gospel when Jesus says to his disciples, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” By “commandments” he is speaking of a new spirit, new values and attitudes towards God, our neighbor, and life.
Let us imagine that Jesus is speaking to us and reminding us of what some of the commandments of discipleship entail.
Do not return evil for evil. Nothing is achieved by retaliation, except to pile darkness upon darkness.
Do not judge others. No one knows all the facts in any particular case except God. Therefore, leave judgment to God.
Do not condemn others. This follows from the last. If we are not to pass judgment on others, neither are we to pass a sentence.
Do not worry about food, drink, and what to wear, as if these were the most important things in life. Make it your first concern to live a life worthy of one’s dignity as a son or daughter of God the Father, and all the rest will fall into place because the Father knows what we need.
Do not store up treasures for yourself here on earth; money, possessions, etc. These are like chaff in the eyes of God, to be blown away in the end.
Do not look back once you have put your hand to the plow, that is, once you have decided to follow Christ. And once you have made what you are sure is a right decision in life, go forward trusting in God.
Do not give up hope when times are tough. Have faith and trust, remembering that you are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows.
Let the light of your goodness shine before others. The light you shed around you will help others to find their way, and God will be glorified.
Love your enemies. To be kind to those you do not like, or who may have been unkind to you, is difficult. But if you do this, you will be the salt of the earth.
Give generously. The measure you measure with, will be the measure you receive from God.
Forgive those who have hurt you. Then you have nothing to fear in regard to your own sins. God has already forgiven them.
See that your minds and hearts are clean. Then all your thoughts, words and deeds will also be clean.
Love one another the way I have loved you. Then all will know that you are a disciple of mine.
We cannot truly call ourselves disciples of Jesus if we do not listen to the words of the Shepherd and make a genuine effort to live by them. Jesus never said discipleship would be easy but he did promise that for those who follow him, they would receive abundant life.
Fr. Dennis, May 21, 2017