1 Corinthians 12:31 - 13:13

Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.

If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.

Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge - for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I a a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall known as fully as I am known.

In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.

Since September 15, the newspapers have carried about three to four articles a day on the pope’s comments on holy war during his address at the University of Resenburg in Germany. First we have the pope saying something that perhaps he shouldn’t have, then we have had the response of the Muslim communities around the world.

In some countries, they called for an apology, but in other countries, violence emerged. Churches were attacked, and the pope’s life was threatened as well. The Vatican first responded but this was insufficient to pacify the Islam world who still called for the pope to make a personal apology, which he did on September 17.

This morning, I spoke to an imam (equivalent of parish priest for Catholics) about the situation, and I was genuinely surprised to find that he “made excuses” for the pope, such as perhaps the pope has not had much exposure to Muslims, or that he was misinformed, etc. Then, as I reflect on today’s first reading, I realised that I was taught a lesson on love for the pope by a Muslim.

Someone once said to me that today’s passage on love is unattainable; it is an ideal that we have no way of ever achieving in our relationships. I find that this is not true. St. Paul, in this passage, is speaking particularly of our love for God and his love for us. This love that we have for God must be the centre of our relationship with him. Only from this relationship does serving God do any good.

It is easy to serve God. Just go to any parish and join a ministry, and you can start serving God. But to serve God with love is quite another story altogether. We cannot serve God with love unless we first love God, which implies that we must have a loving relationship with God.

A relationship is not built up overnight. It takes time and effort on our part to cultivate and nurture our relationship with God. It involves communication and most importantly, quality time spent with him, in prayer, and in reading and reflection on the Word of God. By doing this, we begin to know God (not just knowing about him) better, and we will be more in tuned with what he wants of us.

St. Paul provides us with guidelines on what love is, for us to look at ourselves and identify the areas in our life that we are not loving him as fully as we can. When we die, our soul will leave our earthly body, and then we will see God face to face. When we do, our love for him will become perfect. All our gifts will no longer be important. Our faith will be fulfilled, our hope realized, and our love perfected in God.

You Should Also Check Out This Post:

More Active Posts: