I have shared with some of you the news of a tragedy that happened to my extended family in Colombia this past week. A cousin of mine, Teresa, lost her husband, Luis, age 58, and their 18th-year-old youngest son, Jorge, in an attempted robbery. My cousin’s family buys and sells fresh produce at different fresh markets. They were in a town this past Sunday selling the fresh produce when a man with a firearm came to steel the money they had earned during the day. The attempted robbery ended with Luis and Jorge being killed. Their funeral took place on Thursday. I would like to thank all of you who have been praying for my relatives, and ask you to, please, continue praying for them.
As I pondered this news in my heart all this weeklong, many memories came to my mind. My mother’s family was a family that earned a living buying and selling fresh produce at different fresh markets. My grandmother did that in the first half of the previous century when there were no roads, and people walked and carried things on donkeys. She even managed to give birth and nurse nine children at the same time.
My mother also bought and sold fresh produce when I was in elementary and middle school. She did it on a very small scale. She would travel to the city and get to the fresh market in the evenings when merchants were getting rid of the fresh produce they did not sell. My mother would secure a deal and the next day she would go to a nearby town to sell. She would take me or one of my two brothers to help her carry things. We loved going with her because she would give us money to buy ice cream, desserts, and all the goodies we liked to eat as children.
In today’s gospel Saint John tells us that, at the Last Supper, the Lord says to his disciples, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me”. We all love the Lord, some more than others, but we all do. The Lords tells us today that the way we know that we truly love him is by observing his commandments.
There is a distinction between the way we love people and the way we love the Lord. To understand the meaning of the verb “to love”, I always go to Saint Thomas Aquinas who taught that, to love is to will the good of the other. A constant in the life of all of us is that it is subject to suffering and need. The person who loves us is the one who wills our good, and, consequently, goes out of his/her way to attend to our needs. We love others when we understand their needs and do something to provide what they need. In this sense, God is who loves us more because He, better than anyone else, knows our needs, materially and spiritually, and goes out of the way to attend to them.
We cannot love God the same way we love others, because God’s existence is not subject to suffering and need. God does not depend on us to get something He needs. God does not lack anything.
The way we love the Lord is by keeping his commandments. Our love for the Lord is shown in our total trust in him. As the Lord loved his heavenly Father by keeping his commandments even to the point of giving his very life up, in the same way the Lord asks us to love him, keeping his commandments even when they lead us to sacrificing our own lives for him. The Saints did learn this so well.
Let us humbly ask the Lord to grant us his grace to observe his commandments as He did observe his heavenly Father’s commandments.