My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I get to write the article this week since Fr. Cesar is in his annual retreat. A fun fact, I used to do this for a living. My last job before religious life was writing for a small magazine. As a small-time journalist, my best articles were written when I learned to love what I was writing about. For example, once I had to write an article about jazz. I knew almost nothing about it so I studied and listened to jazz music to understand and like the genre. As a result, I was pleased with my article and had a lot of fun writing it. Knowing and understanding are part of the process of love.

In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus talks about this process. First He says we have to keep His commandments to remain in His love. The basic level of discipleship is keeping the commandments of our faith, especially the Ten Commandments. Jesus is talking about the state of grace. When we directly, intentionally, and knowingly go against the Ten Commandments, we reject the love that God has for us. We stop abiding in the love of God. If I say I am a disciple of Christ but rob a bank, I contradict myself, become a cause for scandal, and my action deserves punishment in this life and the next. Keeping the Ten Commandments assures me that I am living a decent life but also helps me to understand what is good and what is evil.

It is good that we remain in His love by keeping the commandments but He encourages us to aim higher: friendship with Him.

Jesus says more. It is good that we remain in His love by keeping the commandments but He encourages us to aim higher: friendship with Him. To explain, Jesus uses the analogies of a slave (also translated as servant) and a friend. A servant obeys his boss but ultimately is not the boss’ friend. On the other hand, friends do not mind doing favors for each other and enjoy spending time together. Friends know each other well and love each other. 

Obeying God’s commandments is good and assures us of living according to His love. Befriending God is even better. It means we love Him back. The Ten Commandments have a lot of “thou shall nots” because they are basic rules, boundaries that prevent us from falling away from God’s love. Befriending God means I go the extra mile because love always seeks to grow. 

During the next weeks, I especially encourage you to know God by studying and praying with each of the Ten Commandments. Pray and study one commandment each day. You can find them in Deuteronomy 5:6-21 or at the beginning of section two of part three of the Catechism. After praying and studying each, have a resolution that has to do with that commandment. For example, after you pray about the fourth commandment, call your parents just to thank them for being there for you. When we know God’s commandments, we know God. When we know God, we love God and live to the full. 

In Corde Iesu,

Fr. Yamato Icochea, P.E.S

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