We have the great privilege this weekend because our second reading today is one of these great texts of the Bible and indeed of world literature. It is from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 13, and this wonderful reflection on love. Love is so central, love is what God is, and everything else in liturgy and theology centres on love.
- If I have the eloquence of men, the eloquence of angels…” what a brilliant gift to have. If I have all this and don’t have love I am like a gong booming or a cymbal clashing, like a raucous gong. If I have the gift of prophesy, knowledge, etc. what a great gift to have. How many of us today would love to have Wikipedia knowledge. All this is useless if it is not informed by love. If I have the gift of faith, we all know that faith is a great gift, and we have people who have great faith to move mountains but without love I am nothing at all.
- What is love: St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that love is to will the good of others. We don’t do nice things to other people so that they will be nice to us that indirect egotism. St. Luke tells us in his gospel, if you do good to those who do good to you if you love those who love you, if you lend to others so that you hope to receive something in return, what good is that. Love truly wants the good of other people. Love is patient: how many times we feel we’ve done enough, there nothing more I can do for that person, if we truly love we don’t give up. Love is never jealous; sometimes when we see someone who is outshining us we tend to undermine these people, people who are trying their best, trying to do good and then we knock them, we speak ill of them. Love does not seek its own interest; it is never boastful, rude, or selfish. Love does not take offence and is not resentful. We all fall into this at times, being resentful, brooding over injuries, what others have done to us, what other people said to us, because they have treated me like this I will treat them likewise, that’s egotism, love moves on. Loves takes not pleasure in other peoples sins or failings. Sometimes we take delight in the wrong doings of other people. That is why we love gossip so much, ‘did you hear about so and so’, ‘did you read about so and so’ and then what is worse sometimes we spread false rumours about other people. How many times do we publicly speak about the fault of another person, which we heard from second or third hand informants? We assume as true something false that has been said in gossip about others, without sufficient foundation, and yet we publicly speak about it as true. We love talking about the failings of other people; love is not interested in the failings of others but delights in the truth. Love bears all burdens; I’ll go so far but that all, you will never hear a mother saying that they will only endure so much or a husband and wife who will endure so much.
- Love does not come to an end. All things will pass away, sometimes we can become obsessed with wealth, knowledge, with egotism and these things will all pass, and love will endure forever.
Love first, love last, love in all things, we need to read this passage more often.