“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2)
Amongst the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, one which we often take for granted is the gift of Love. People tend to look at those who speak in tongues as very holy people. A lot of respect is given to those who have the gift of preaching and those who have the gift of healing; they are seen as demi-gods. But as St. Paul makes us understand in today’s first reading, the greatest gift is Love.
St. James says: “show me your faith apart from works and I by my works will show you my faith.” The work that shows one’s true faith is love. And love in concrete terms is charity; the help we give to those in need, the less privileged, those who have no one to help them etc. In reality, those who render help to the poor deserve more respect and honour than those who preach, those who work miracles, the prayer warriors and even those skilled in church administration. There is no gift greater than love.
As St. Paul teaches, let us strive, desire and long only for the highest of all the gifts which is love. That is to say, we should pray for the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others and help them. Even the devil himself can quote the bible and preach sermons, he can pretend to be working miracles but he cannot love. Only a truly holy person has what it takes to love.
St. Paul did not stop at merely asking us to love, he clarifies the kind of love when he says, love is patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, not irritable, not resentful, does not rejoice a wrong, bears all things, believes, hopes and endures all things and above all, love never ends.
Many may claim to love but when these qualities are lacking, it becomes merely trade by barter. Any love that cannot forgive – has an expiry date is not really love. Any love that only gives when it takes is not love. Any love that only begins and ends with sexual attraction is not love. In truth, much of what our world today considers as love is not love at all. The best definition of love is the image of Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
In our Gospel passage, we are reminded of the fact that we can never please human beings. No matter how hard we try, no matter how good we may be, there will always be people to criticize us sometimes our of genuine concern and sometimes out of pure hatred. Jesus asks a fundamental question in today’s Gospel passage: “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.”
One thing is sure, If only we try to please God with as much vigour and energy we spend in trying to please people, our lives would be much better.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to love better and to strive only to please you. Amen.Bible Study: 1st Corinthians 12:31-13:13, Psalm 33:2-22, and Luke 7:31-35).