24th Week, Wednesday, Sept 16

1 Cor 12:31 - 13:13 / Luke 7:31-35

Paul talks about gifts: The greatest gift is love. 

St. Theresa was a Carmelite nun in Lisieux, France. She died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24. Among her writings was a passage in which she talks about her search for what special calling God had given to her to better serve the Church. She turned to Paul's letters and read that not everyone was called upon to be an apostle, a prophet, or a teacher. This left her more confused than ever. She continued reading Paul until she came to the words in today's reading: "Set your hearts, then, on the more important gifts. . The greatest of these is love." Then, she writes: "Nearly ecstatic with supreme joy in my soul, I proclaimed: 'O Jesus . . . At last I have found my calling: my calling is love.' " 


St Paul gives us today his famous hymn to Christian love. It is greater than any charism, for charisms are vain if not rooted in love. Three points St Paul makes about love. First, he speaks about the supremacy of love: It is greater than all the other charismata he mentioned. From the lowest to the highest. Love is greater than tongues, prophecies, knowledge, faith and helping. It is more important than all possessions. It is even more important than our life. Without it man is nothing. It changes a person, ennobles and gives value to a person. Then Paul tells us not what love is, but what it does. Paul uses in Greek 15 verbs. Verbs are the words of action. He thus personifies love. Finally, he explains the origin and the end of love. Faith, hope and love are the three divine virtues: They come from God; they are his gifts. Through the Holy Spirit love is poured out in our souls. It is like sanctifying grace. Faith is the origin: In faith man gives himself to God. The friendship and familiarity with God is the origin of love. God is the end of love: Love leads to God in hope. It makes God its home. Heaven will be love. 


How are we using our gift of love to better serve God and the Church? "We are shaped and fashioned by what we love." Goethe


We know how easy it is to chop off a branch from a tree with a sharp axe, yet we also know it is impossible to re-attach the branch back to the tree. When power and might are abused and misused, then the consequences are offensive and destructive.

Hence we know that it is easier to break than to repair; it is easier to hurt than to heal; it is easier to hate than to love. Yes, it is easier to divide and destroy than to unite and reconcile, and with physical power and military might, division and destruction is made very much easier. Yet the real power and might lies in love and in its work of uniting and reconciling and healing.

In the 1st reading, St. Paul expressed the power of love in humble and simple and quiet ways like patience and kindness, truthfulness and endurance, trusting and hoping, and also not being jealous or boastful or conceited or rude or selfish. Yes it is with love that we are also able to recognize loving people who speak and live by truth, even though the world might ridicule them or push them aside.

As Jesus said in the gospel, the world is "like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place" and scorns the simplicity and the humility of love. Yet just as Wisdom is proven right by all her children, so the power of love to heal and reconcile will prove to be mightier than the sword that just cuts and destroys. May we always choose the way of love and trust and hope in Jesus, our Lord of love.


Reflection: The faith of the leaders of the people is compared to make believe of children at play. John the Baptist, came as prophesied by the prophet Malachi. The Pharisees and scribes refused to be baptised. They spurned God's will. There already the split began. The simple folk was ready to believe, the leaders refused. The sin of unbelief is theirs. Like stubborn children, when they play dance tunes, they refuse to dance. 

When they sing dirges, they refuse to weep. John the Baptist came as a great ascetic. They were not impressed by it. Christ came for the wedding feast. They call him a glutton and a lover of wine. It is not God that failed. He had sent the prophets. As experts of the law, they ought to know. There is enough evidence. Faith is the free act of men. There is enough light. The leaders, however, want to safeguard their own position. People without prejudice can come to faith. Who seeks himself, will not find God.


Let us pray: God, your name is love. You are the source of all love. Let love become so characteristic of the disciples of your Son that it is part of our identity and that it prompts people to say: “See how they love one another.” Make us recognize more
that it is a precious gift that comes from your generosity. We offer you our thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. God bless.