I’d like to reflect today on the first reading we heard from St. Paul to the Corinthians. I’m sure it is familiar to you – and it is one of those that is read at weddings frequently, although probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
The words we hear tell us that whatever great gifts we may have that serve the community, all of us, they are pretty shabby if we lack love. Love is a confusing word in our world today for the most part. People think that it’s just a feeling we have. In a sense that is partially true, but it’s much more.
You may remember the two great commandments that Jesus gave us, to love God and to love our neighbor. If we would translate this word “love” perhaps as “concern” we would bring attention to its real source, in our desire to do good and express the obligation we have to God and to others.
To put this in a different light, we know from our own experience how disappointing it is when even great talent or skill isn’t accompanied by a generous, kind heart. For example, no matter how well a person does their job, it disappoints us when he or she just snaps rudely at someone who simply asks a question. Maybe you’ve seen or experienced that at a restaurant, or when out shopping, or doing business at any number of places.
On one occasion I was taking a class, I don’t remember the subject at the moment; the instructor was very knowledgeable and intelligent but didn’t bother to learn my name or return a greeting. Just imagine if the parish priest only cared about the church books and not about the spiritual well-being of all of us? Not going to happen.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude”, Paul writes.
The famous athlete who takes time for the little kids who look up to them, model that love better than the one who sees the kids only as nuisances. You may remember last year when professional football player J.J. Watts over in Houston gave time, effort, and money to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. He could have done something self-serving like so many others of his stature, but instead also lent his name to an effort that would raise millions for people living on the coast.
We can also do our part in the place where we live and interact with others. Our gifts, in the sense of talents and abilities are, after all, basically gifts; we may have developed them but we did not create them. To really shine, these gifts we have need to be accompanied by generous love and readiness to serve others, not just our self. “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”
Let’s remember to be thoughtful in all the things we do and say in our day-to-day activities. It does make a difference.