The homilist at Mass this weekend made the very interesting point that we can, and should, use Paul’s beautiful description of love as a structure with which to consider how well we are living up to our Christian vocation.
You know the text, right?
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. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
He began by pointing out that we could replace the word “love” in this text, or the relevant pronoun “it”, by the name of Jesus. And it would still make sense. After all, he pointed out, Paul learned about love from his encounter with the Risen Lord.
Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind. Jesus is not jealous, Jesus is not pompous, Jesus is not inflated, Jesus is not rude, Jesus does not seek his own interests, Jesus is not quick-tempered, Jesus does not brood over injury, Jesus does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
A beautiful variation of the text, right? And perfectly consistent with what we know of Jesus from the gospels.
Now. Put your own name in.
:gulp: A little less consistent, eh?
I like this approach a lot. It’s scriptural; it’s based on the New Testament; and it’s very clear, specific, and easy to apply to our lives. Being led through it this way reminds us that as Christians, we bear the name of Jesus, and are called to live in a way that lives up to that name.
It’s worth remembering that Paul wrote this text to a church that was riven with factionalism, each group believing that they were more blessed, more worthy, more superior in Christian life because of their particular spiritual gifts or position in the community. This was his prescription for them. May we take it to heart in the church today.