First Reading: Acts 15:7-21
And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, `After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.' Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood. For from early generations Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read every sabbath in the synagogues."
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 96:1-3, 10
O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity."
Gospel: John 15:9-11
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Does this sound familiar?:
Parent: “Will you please pick up your things?"
Child: *ignores and continues doing her own thing*
Parent: “I said, will you pick up your things before dinner?"
Child: “Ugh, I will get to it.” *continues ignoring parent*
Parent: “I said, pick up your things, NOW."
Child: “Why do you have to nag me?? Jeez."
Parent and child: *General angst, frustration, and anger*
Can we all agree that this tactic just does not work? I remember when I was one of those angsty teens, I would battle with my mother over everything. Doors were slammed. Tears were shed. “Fine, mom”s and “You never listen to me”s were thrown around quite frequently.
(At this point, I am the mother of a beautiful bouncing one year-old, so we have not gotten into the tantrum and talk-back phases yet, so my perspective on this is only from the child’s point-of-view.)
What is the common denominator here? It was the initial question. It was the suggestion of the parent to the child.
We are all children of our Father God and what is clear here is this: He does not make suggestions.
He does not ask, “Will you sing me a new song?” No.
They were not called “The Ten Suggestions.” He commands us to love one another, He tells us to abide in His love, we are called to declare His glory.
No suggestions, just commandments. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Nope. No. No way.
But isn’t that completely awesome? He does not give us room to doubt or question or wonder about His power and love. He tell us He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. He saves us again and again. His promises are always kept. He is eternal and never-ending. So why wouldn’t we listen to His commandments? He tells us again and again, "I love you too much to let you perish."
He does not make suggestions. Just as His love is completely steadfast and true, we should whole-heartedly answer His call.
Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm is a wife, mom, and soon-to-be-dentist currently living in San Francisco, California. You can find out more about her here.