It’s February, and this month holds many special days within it. Like Mardi Gras next Tuesday, the beginning of Lent next Wednesday, St. Blaise’s feast day this Wednesday – and St. Valentine’s day as well, two weeks from yesterday.
All very centered around one simple thing, love.
I say simple, but the reality is that love is both the simplest and most complicated force at work in nature. The power and magnitude of love is incredible. Last Sunday’s readings focused on love. Let’s look at the second one again – from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
“Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy,
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 COR 12:31—13:13
At first glance love seems so simple. Something easy to do, and it is! But let’s look at what St. Paul says love is – and what love isn’t. What we are with love, and without love.
This passage opens up with St. Paul’s familiar greeting: “Brothers and sisters”, a greeting that reminds us of the fact that we are one family, one body in Christ. And that is a beautiful symbol of love.
He then goes on to say that we should strive for the best spiritual gifts, yet he will show us a better way. The way of love.
I love the next part. Where he writes that without love, it matters not what we say, for we are like resounding gongs or clashing cymbals. Think about that. If you speak to someone in a loving way, your words go across and are more likely to touch the heart of the person you’re speaking to. Whereas if you speak without love, and instead with something of hatred or anger, you’ll get nowhere.
We are nothing without love. Our faith matters not if we fail to have love. All our knowledge, comprehension of mysteries, prophecies, it means nothing without love.
We gain nothing from giving things away, offering things up, if we do not do it out of love.
Love is God. and God is love.
St. Paul’s next paragraph is one of the best known passages in the New Testament, I think, and I encourage you to go re-read it. It is powerful in how it shows what love truly is. How love should be. What love should not be.
Love is a beautiful thing.
Never discount the power of love. The final part of that reading goes,
“So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.”
Greater than faith. Greater than hope. Love is greatest.
This month, focus on love. The meaning of it, the power of it, think about how much God loves you – because He loves you an awful lot. You are a miracle. You are incredible. You are made in the image and likeness of God – made in the image of love.
Think about that.
Next time we’ll look at more examples of God’s love as shown to us throughout the Bible. Check back soon