This coming weekend is the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, in which we are asked by the Church to pray for members of religious communities, like the Salvatorians, women and men who have served this parish from its beginning. It has been an honor for me to a part of this loving community for the last 8 years.
Also, we are winding down our annual Salvatorian Sunday collection. I thank those who have already supported my community, the Society of the Divine Savior. If you would still like to participate, there are envelopes in the back of church or you can donate at bit.ly/salvatoriansundaypiusx. Thank you.
Our second reading this weekend, Paul’s discourse on love found in 1 Corinthians 13, is probably one of the most well know passages of the New Testament. I would guestimate that it was chosen for 75% of the weddings I have celebrated over the years. There are two important points to keep in mind to make sure we are understanding what Paul is telling us.
First, Paul puts love in the category of “gift” with his opening sentence. What he is going to talk about is a gift of God and it is only with God’s help that we will be able to live it.
Second, Paul is not talking about romantic love (eros) or brotherly love (philia), in which we feel an emotional attraction for another person. When we are “in love” with someone or are related to someone, it is easy to go out of our way for them. Paul is talking about “agape,” a love that is based on a commitment to a way of life and is able to consider the needs of another, even if we do not know the other or have any relationship with them. It is free and unconditional, that is, the other person doesn’t have to earn it. In fact, it is love shown when our feelings or emotions might be pushing us in the other direction.
Paul describes this kind of love as patient and kind. But what he is talking about becomes much clearer by what he says it is NOT: it is not jealous, it 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 injuries, it does not rejoice over wrong doing.
Agape love is how we act, not how we feel. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I might FEEL angry, but if I act kindly, I am showing this special kind of love. If someone yells at me or harms me, but I am able to treat them kindly, despite any feelings I might have, I am living agape. It is the kind of love that Jesus modeled for us when, on the cross, He was able to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Agape is quite a challenge. It urges us to act contrary to our feelings and emotions. That is why Paul starts off calling it a gift, a gift of God. Jesus modeled it for us. We are called as Christians to live this way of life. How are we doing?
Let our mantra to self this week be the end of our reading: faith, hope, and love remain; but the greatest of these is AGAPE.
Church sign of the week: Those who deserve love the least need it the most.