Whether or not you have the appropriate red shirt to wear today or have the money to bring your beloved out on a date, it is good today to celebrate love with the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
I may be many things, a married person or a celibate, an elder or a youth, a corporate manager or a union leader, bishop or a politician, a warrior or a lover, but if I do not have love, I am nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Many times I say I love, and many times I think I do. But often, the way I act contradicts what I say and belies what I think. I lose my cool; I scheme to be mean. I envy those better off than me. I boast of my sins, rather than repent of them, using bravado to drown out the guilt. I am chronically angry and complaining, because lacking love, I find no joy. Evil which feeds my anger is more of a delight than truth that calls forth love.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Love never fails. But we do, thinking power and violence and toughness never fail. We continue to behave like children fixated on games of war and peace, of power and coercion, of punishment, retribution and death. We see unhappily, only partially. Failing in love, we fail in being fully human
Love is patient, love is kind…
And: “God is love: whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 Jn 4:16). Notice God in you loving. Live him in your every kiss and embrace. Live him in your every kindness. Welcome him in you being loved. Be grateful in accepting him. Be humble; you don’t deserve him. Yet, he loves you. Love loves you.
Happy Valentines’ Day!