We’ve been reflecting on St. Paul’s eloquent words about love from I Corinthians 13. And this is my final post on the subject.
Love is not pompous,
it is not inflated,
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.
Romantic love wears off in a few months. True love requires fidelity and is long-lasting. I often remember people I met briefly twenty or thirty years ago and there is still a place in my heart for them, even those who turned out to reject me. And when I think of them I believe my prayer is able to touch them even now, either living or dead.
We think we know all about love. Yet Love is an Art and a Discipline that is only learned and acquired by trial and error. Thus, we have to learn how to love. Or perhaps unlearn what we have learned in abusive homes or families and find people who can teach us well. I am profoundly grateful for the people who allowed my soul to unfold and blossom because of their love.
When I taught high school seniors (50 years ago!) I had them read two books, Erich Fromm’s Art of Loving and Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. Both books still should be required reading by anyone who wants to become a whole and healed human person.
Many of us keep focusing on finding the right object of our love. Fromm — and Jesus — tell us that being a person who is capable of loving the stranger in the checkout line at the 7-11 or your sibling whose guts you can’t stand is the way we will learn to love.
Love is being free to love the one you’re with so you can be with the one you love.
It is just not possible to love some and hate others. St. John says, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” (1 John 3:15)
And yet, in today’s America, I wonder what kind of leadership and example we are setting for our children when our political and business leaders seek to take revenge on their opponents instead of striving to be true noble patriots instead of petulant bullies.
Love is being able to see and respond to the loving energy of the universe and spread it around instead of trying to possess it for oneself.
Love is faithfully loving whomever God puts in our life at every turn of our life’s journey. A hard task sometimes. I know.
How often we fail. But that’s what growth in love and Christian spirituality is all about. Sometimes it requires a heroic effort and sacrificial love ~ the love of Jesus, the Love of God for us.
And so here’s my final prayer for this Valentine’s Day . . . .
Good and gracious God,
We live in a world that gives us so few models of faithful love.
Help us to learn the art and discipline of loving.
Help us to understand that we cannot love one person ~ even ourselves ~ unless we let love ~ rather than hate ~ flow from our heart to touch and heal and nourish those around us.
Heal us, Lord.
Let us trust in You for you are the Source of all Love,
Your Love is flowing like a river giving life to everything along the way,
a river from our own hearts to everyone we meet this day.
I also ask your blessing on all married couples and those engaged to be married.
It’s not easy to be faithful in this world today.
Pour out your abundant blessing upon them in all their struggles.
Renew their love and their joy this day and all the days of their lives.
And now before you go, wouldn’t you like to hear a romantic melody for your beloved? Well, here’s a very unique one: Cold Play’s True Love Click here.
And here is the entire text of St. Paul’s Ode to Love (I Corinthians 13) Savor each line and see how you measure up. . . .
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,
Love 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.