1Crinthians 12:31- 13:13
4th Sunday Year “C”
A husband and wife were driving toward their home in the country when the wife spotted 3 deer about to cross the road a distance ahead of them. Noticing that here husband wasn’t slowing down she reached over, gently touched his arm, and said, “Honey .... deer”. The husband still didn’t slow down so the wife repeated more firmly, “Honey .... deer”.
Suddenly, he hit the brakes, veered and managed to miss all three. After they caught their breath and slowed their heart rates down the wife asked why he hadn’t paid attention to her warning.
“Warning?” he said, “I thought you were being romantic”.
This, of course, leads up to the subject of this homily..... Love, more specifically Christian love.
We know from Christ’s teaching that the meaning of life can be summed up in one word “love”.
Knowing this, we can reflect on the two great commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.
We can easily say the words, but what is the meaning behind those words, especially the word “love”.
St. Paul tries to answer that question in 1 Corinthians. The source of our second reading.
He reminds us that love is the meaning of life, the “highest gift” and the greatest of virtues. He then gives us a description.... some of the characteristics of real love. He lists 14 great characteristics of Christ like love. These describe both how Christ loves us, and how we are called to express love.
What is most striking about his description is how different it is from the idea of love that is present in popular culture.
For the world we live in, love is an abstract thing, a feeling that sweeps you off your feet and takes control of your life.
For St. Paul, for Christ and for us.... love is not passive at all, ..... and is certainly not an abstract feeling; ..... It is describable and relative.
Love is active self giving. Patience, kindness, forgiveness, courage ....
Sometimes nice feelings go along with this authentic love, .... but they are unessential accessories.
We can verify this by looking at the pinnacle of love .... Christ giving his life on the cross ... it had nothing to do with nice feelings.
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta describes this real love as “not self-centered, but other-centered”.
The lives of the Saints illustrates this truth about love. In their lives they have done the most for God, ... they have done the most for their neighbours and they have learned the secret of being joyful in the midst of hard times.
For the most part, the Saints never had what you could call “comfortable” lives. They, like Christ, were constantly on the verge of being thrown over a cliff.
But even St. Paul, through all his trials, (and there were many) still believed in the possibility of love, and that it is central for the christian. We must be willing to try. But we must also be willing to accept our weakness and failures without anger and frustration.
Having said all this, I think it is worth pointing out that the opposite of love is resentment. Resentment is the means for all the opposing forces that are against love. However, resentment, unlike love, is not perfect, and we have the means to recognize it and to change our response to it.
I encourage you to look inward and examine your resentments and you will see inside of you the barriers that keep you separated from God. You will also see the things that hold you back from loving as a Christian should.
To end, I would like to read a short story. The author tells us that this “real love is possible”, it also speaks to a way of managing in a world that resists real love.
What is a Saint? A Saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say exactly what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the power of love. Contact with this power results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A Saint does not dissolve chaos; if he or she did, the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a Saint dissolves the chaos even for himself or herself, for there is something arrogant and worldlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order.
It is a kind of balance that is a Saint’s glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock.
Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid, sometimes rough, landscape. His house is tedious and finite, but he is at home in the world.
He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men and women, such balancing giants of Love.