In today’s Gospel, Jesus says “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” Throughout the Farewell Discourse, Jesus issues several conditionals with a similar theme. For example, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Conditionals involve an ‘if/then’. When the condition is true, meeting a sufficient condition will always produce the event or outcome provided in a valid statement or syllogism.
While it is true that God always loves us unconditionally, we choose how we respond to the outpouring of divine grace. The Christian life is a living and active response to God. God always makes the first move. While we were still yet sinners, Christ died for us. God gives us everything, including the grace and individual capabilities to say ‘yes’ to Him every day.
What guarantees - because of the One who grants such a guarantee - that we will remain in the love of Christ is that we keep His commandments. For instance, that we love God above all and love others as we love ourselves. And that we obey the other things He teaches us through Sacred Scripture and His Holy Catholic Church. Such obedience must not be thought of in a slavish or arbitrary sense. Rather, we heed the teaching of Christ and His Church because God tells us that in so doing our joy will be complete. We can indeed be free from what truly enslaves us, which is sin. Obedience and discipline in Christ bring this freedom.
It is for our eternal beatitude that we become who God created us to be. We also reap benefits in the here and now, by having peace with God and with our fellow man. God does not love us or guide us because He stands to gain anything. His love for us is an outpouring of the divine life, and His commandments to us are so that we may fully enjoy that life to the utmost.