Every once in a while a dispute about the display of the Ten Commandments on public property makes the news. A judge might make a decision or an elected official might push the is-sue, and some minister may stand up to denounce what he sees as the dissolution of the moral fiber of society. These pub-lic displays usually involve the text of the commandments from the Book of Exodus, also known as the Protestant version. The Catholic version, which comes from the list in the book of Deu-teronomy, rarely gets ac-knowledged in such dis-putes.
Neither the command-ments in Exodus, nor the ones in Deuteronomy, are the commandments that Jesus is concerned about in today’s Gospel. While those minimal expectations are to be followed, Jesus has a much greater precept that he wants his followers to observe. The command that Jesus gives is the law of reciprocal love. He expects his followers to love him and in return he and the Fa-ther will love them. And Jesus commands his followers to love one another in the same way that he loves them.
This command of love raises the bar on the level of expecta-tions. For the Christian, it is no longer a minimal level of moral behavior that fulfills the covenant. Instead, it is a complete re-newal of life that is required, a renewal which begins with an encounter with the Father through Jesus and comes full circle in the love for one another. The minimum requirements of the law are not enough. Instead, love becomes the singular command that must be fulfilled: love of God, and love of one another. Dis-putes about the Ten Commandments have gone on for years, and will likely continue for years to come. Likewise, there are always debates about the concrete ways of fulfilling Christ’s command to love. But his words to his followers are very clear: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).