1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
The Greatest of These is Love.
Love is a choice. We make thousands of choices a day but most important decision we will make all day is the one to love.
As St. Paul says in his letter, "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or 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 the greatest of all things and is the force with which the world turns.
However, the type of "love" that we see most often today is not the kind of love into which Christ calls us. This type of love is an even exchange, 50/50. You should only love someone who can give you something in return. This kind of love leaves no room for human brokenness. The minute we falter, we become open to the fear that we will no longer be accepted.
The love we are being called to in Christ is a selfless and inclusive love – a love that knows no bounds and is not "self-seeking". St. Paul gives us a list of the characteristics of love that we should strive to emulate. These are not just instructions for a married couple, but for all of humanity. This list shows a variety of ways we can exemplify this love: being kind, patient, and selfless; this kind of love never fails.
Yes, we are human and our love is not perfect. That does not mean we should give up hope. We are called though to shine forth a facet of Christ’s light and love. To strive for the unconditional love that we are given every moment. In that intention is where we exemplify that love. Our greatest example of this kind love is Christ crucified where He poured out Himself for us. All things lead back to Christ, especially our love for one another.
"There is no human love that is not broken somewhere. When our broken love is the only love we can have, we are easily thrown into despair, but when we can live our broken love as a partial reflection of God’s perfect, unconditional love, we can forgive one another our limitations and enjoy together the love we have to offer." – Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey
Kim Valdez is a Pastoral Associate at Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center in Houston, Texas.