“If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15)
Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant when He said to “keep my commandments”? While most of us think we are in compliance, it really depends on our definition of His directive. If we accept a loose definition (i.e. “I’m basically a good person”), then we’re probably pretty safe. But what did Jesus actually mean when He made that statement? How can we ask Him for clarification?
We do know that He told the Apostles, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (Jn 14:16-18) But how does that help us to determine whether we’re following His commandments? We first receive the promised Holy Spirit at Baptism, but what happens when I feel that it isn’t necessary to go to Church each Sunday and another Christian disagrees? How about if I think that artificial birth control is legitimate and another baptized Christian differs with that opinion? Abortion? Capital Punishment? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit guide us? Was Jesus wrong?
It quickly becomes apparent that for the words of Jesus to make sense, there needs to be some sort of authoritative teaching voice. Otherwise, we’d incorrectly conclude that the Holy Spirit is telling people different “truths”. Multiple conflicting opinions cannot all be true. The truth is the truth! That universal teaching authority spoken of in the Bible is the Catholic Church. Guided by the Holy Spirit, she assists us in following the teachings of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that we receive “the Word of God containing the teachings of the law of Christ” (CCC 2030) and “To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls” (CCC 2032).
But how does all of this relate to “keeping the commandments”? It’s actually quite simple. By following the teachings of His Catholic Church, you can be sure that you’re following the commandments of Christ. Our Lord instructs us very clearly on how we should act if we love Him. Note also that He doesn’t say to “follow some of my commandments” or “follow the commandments that you agree with”. His instructions are to “follow my commandments”…that means all of them! Get to know what the Catholic Church teaches in her Catechism. You can even view it online here. Then you can truthfully say, “I love you Lord and I’m keeping your commandments.”