Who is really
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
Is the Holy Faith exclusive and unwelcoming? This is an important question and a challenge.
We know that Jesus sets forth what seems to be requirements for those who would follow Him, who would enter the kingdom. A lot of people think that makes up a list of requirements.
Let’s look at this a little deeper starting with an understanding of what requirements are. Going to the dictionary we find two ways of looking at the term: Requirement: a thing that is needed or wanted. Requirement: a thing that is compulsory or necessary.
Of course, if the Church were a social club we might have dues and membership requirements. If we were a sports club, we would have athletic skill requirements. If we were a music group, we would have talent requirements. We do not have any of those as Church.
Does the Church have things that are needed or wanted? Certainly, but that is not prerequisite. We do not screen based on needs or wants. Rather, we trust that whatever is wanted or needed will be provided. Does the Church have things that are compulsory? We might think baptism, the other sacraments, avoidance of sin. There too, they are not prerequisites. Rather, they are the means through which we grow deeper into relationship with God.
Requirements seem practical and organized. They seem to provide structure and can even be reassuring, but we would be very wrong in reducing God to a set of requirements: if you do x then you have a guaranteed ticket to heaven, paradise, etc.
Instead of requirements, Jesus spoke of love. Love changes our understanding. Love is never a response to requirements. Rather, love is a response to love. God didn’t wait for us to love him before He loved us. God’s love precedes and enables our love – He welcomes us. God then further responds to our love by entering into a unique, personal, intimate, affectionate, caring, and committed relationship welcoming those who respond to Him in love.
The thing to notice is that loving Jesus is not the same as keeping requirements (the Law as old Israel understood it). Love is an opening, a welcome. Love precedes and gives rise to a relationship that will last forever and out of which we seek to do what is asked of us: keeping the great commandment of loving God and each other. The call to feed, house, clothe, and visit.
For those who love and follow through on that love the promise awaits, the new, eternal and glorious heaven where we will live in love forever – totally welcome.