As this Sunday's Gospel reading points out, to love Jesus means to live by his commandments and teachings. In our hearts, we do want to do this. We want to honor Christ by imitating him. We want to love like Jesus loves. We know that God dwells in us when we do this.
However, it isn't easy. Every day, stuff happens that challenges our ability to keep his word and imitate his ways. Either we forget what Jesus would have done in a similar situation, or we don't know. When people afflict us with their faults and failings and unloving behaviors, we fumble around in uncertainty and guesswork and sinful reactions.
There is no list in scripture that spells out clearly how to follow Christ in each and every circumstance: "If such-and-such occurs, apply Godly Principle #127."
This is why Jesus assured us that he'd give us his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here to remind us of Jesus and his holy ways every time we face another challenging situation, from the moment we wake up in the morning till the moment we're sleeping again.
So then, our problem is not that we don't know how to keep the commandments of Christ. Our problem is that we forget to rely on the Holy Spirit who teaches us how to keep the commandments. Or we don't know how to be aware of his guidance. We have God's full assistance, but we react to life's challenges as if we must handle it by ourselves.
Here's a spiritual exercise that can help you remember to stay open-eared to the sound of Holy Spirit guiding you: Sanctify each hour. Set your watch or a timer app on your cell phone to beep an alarm at the top of each hour. Whenever it beeps, say a few words thanking the Holy Spirit for being with you and guiding you through the next sixty minutes. After doing this for few weeks, you'll become automatically and constantly aware of the presence of God and his ever-available help.
Questions for Personal Reflection: How often do you pray specifically to the Holy Spirit for guidance and insight and understanding? What would you like the Holy Spirit to explain to you right now? Ask for the help, and then wait, watch and listen for God to open your heart to the truth.
Questions for Family & Community Faith Sharing: How has the Holy Spirit been a teacher to you? How has God filled in gaps in your understanding of scripture and Church teachings and their real-life applications? What sources has he used to convey the information (e.g., a homily, a song, a friend)?
From a reader named Bobby: "Too often Catholic pencil pushers use their hierarchy of intelligence, throwing out four syllable words, forcing the reader to open a dictionary, promoting self and not Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Other astute writers will quote from everything they have read and springboard into a verse or two from the Bible. What I like about GNM, you present the truth in a simple and non-compromising format that anyone can understand. Jesus taught on the level of the people who were listening."