A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 12:31-13:13
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.
The above reading is a well known passage, particularly if one frequents wedding Masses.
In times of happiness, the passage is usually welcomed and celebrated. Yet, it is in times of great trial and conflict that the passage becomes a challenge and grates on our conscience. How do I love those who have wronged me? How do I bear and endure the wounds inflicted on me? How do I show kindness and patience to those who have not shown me the same courtesy?
I read the passage over and over again to comprehend the lofty demands of real love. It is a struggle like pushing a car up a hill with the gear in reverse. It is difficult because my heart is not yet completely healed nor transformed, it is still wounded by Original sin and my own sins.
And I realized that without the presence of God in us, living out the demands of love would not be possible. May we always pray and long for God’s presence and help to love Him and one another truly.