Why does our Sunday gospel have a conditional: “If you love me.”
Love in this passage refers to the word Agape (ἀγάπη): a sacrificial love at the highest level that unites and heals; It is selfless. It is the highest, most pure form of love as a choice, not out of attraction or obligation.
The “If” is because Jesus sets this starting point: free, humble, fragile, trusting, and patient. It does not say: you have to love me. No threats, no compulsion, you can adhere, and you can refuse in total freedom.
But, if you love me, your divinity will appear; you will become like me (Jesus) yet retain what makes you a singular creation of God.
An extension of my deeds, an echo of my words: if you love me, you will keep my commandments. Not out of duty but as an outward expansion of the longing you already carry, like the sap of the vine in spring, when it presses on the hard bark of the shoots, opens them up, and comes out in the form of buds and leaves.
The commandments to be observed are those gestures that sum up Jesus’ life, and by seeing them, you cannot be mistaken: it is him. He who loses himself behind the lost sheep, behind publicans and prostitutes, who makes children the princes of his kingdom, who loves first, loves at a loss, loves without waiting to be reciprocated. Truly, life-comforting commandments. While Jesus gives you a healing embrace, his hands still burn with the glowing nail marks of crucifixion.