I Corinthians 12:29-13:13
This is the message that we have received and which we preach tirelessly to others: that God is Love, and that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to become human and to live among us, so that we might know that we are loved and forgiven, and be set free from sin and death. We believe and proclaim that we, having received such a great love, are being set free from selfishness and self-preoccupation so that we might love others with the same love with which we have been loved.
In a word, our message is all about love.
St Paul’s description of the gift of love found in I Corinthians 13 is, therefore, a special gift for us, because it describes the love we are to have for God and for one another, which of course is the same love with which God has loved us. Listen to what Paul says:
Love is patient. It is willing to receive slights, injuries and hardships without complaint, even over a long period of time.
Love is kind. It eases another person’s pain, soothes anxieties, fears and hostilities, and contributes positively to the happiness of others.
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It is not resent the success or prosperity of others. It is humble, constantly forgetting its own achievements and seeking the welfare and happiness of others.
Love does not insist on its own way, but takes seriously the needs, sufferings, hopes and joys of other people.
Love is not irritable or resentful. It seeks to understand before it condemns, and finds better ways to withstand evil than to attack its opponents with violence.
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It does not notice and remember every bad thing that another does (which leads to resentment), but seeks to respond to hatred with love, and to evil with forgiveness.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. It is steadfast, resilient, cheerful and full of hope.
Love never ends. It will never cease to operate and it will never become invalid, because it is the purpose and nature of God, and because it is the only relationship by which human beings can exist together. Even the most prominent gifts in the Church – Paul cites the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge – will someday cease to function. But love is greater than all these and will never end.
Think of this. As followers of Jesus, we are sent into this world to be visible signs of God’s unconditional love. When people are able to say of us, “See how they love one another,” they will catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced. In a world torn apart by anger, hatred and conflict, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds. We embrace that vocation again today as we extend our hands to receive again the One who is Love.
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