That Sunday's second Scripture reading got me started: 1 Corinthians 12:12-30. Today's second reading, 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13, picks up on the next verse:
"Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts...."I could stop there, and claim that everybody should start clamoring for "the greatest spiritual gifts."
(1 Corinthians 12:31)
I've talked about cherry picking before. It's a bad idea. (March 15, 2015; February 8, 2015)
As usual, the first few words aren't the whole story:
"Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.There's a lot more along those lines.
"1 If I speak in human and angelic tongues 2 but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a 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."
(1 Corinthians 12:31-3)
1 Corinthians 13:4-6 give a quick overview of love:
- Love is
- Love is not
I checked the Catechism's glossary for a definition of "love," and got this:
"CHARITY: The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God (1822)."
(Charity, Glossary, Catechism)
Love and charity, in the Catholic sense, aren't just feelings. We're supposed to act as if love and charity make a difference.
Doing what's right is easier when emotions are in sync with our reason — but we're supposed to think. Like I keep saying, "...conscience is a law of the mind...." (Catechism, 1762-1775, 1776)
Saint Jerome says that when John the Apostle was very old and weak, he'd be carried out to meet people. Then he shared what he'd learned while at the side of Jesus:
" 'My dear children, love one another.' When his auditors, wearied with hearing constantly the same thing, asked him why he always repeated the same words, he replied, 'Because it is the precept of the Lord, and if you comply with it, you do enough': an answer, says St. Jerome, worthy the great St. John, the favourite disciple of Christ"Every profound insight, all the knowledge learned at the side of the Second Parson of the Trinity were, at their core: "My dear children, love one another."
("St John, Apostle and Evagelist," EWTN [emphasis mine])
That's why, for two millennia, the Catholic Church has been passing on the same message:
- 'Love God, love your neighbor'
(Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-31)
- Everybody is our neighbor
(Matthew 5:43-44, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-30; Catechism, 1825)
Jesus the Nazorean claimed to be God: "...before Abraham came to be, I AM." (John 8:58)
I've got options: I can believe that Jesus is a lunatic, a liar, or the great I AM. As C. S. Lewis pointed out, I can't assume that Jesus is just another wise teacher:
"...A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell...."I'm quite sure that Jesus isn't crazy, or a liar: mainly because our Lord was tortured, executed — and then stopped being dead:
(C. S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity," via Wikipedia)
"And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them."Small wonder that each of the surviving Apostles, except John, were killed because they wouldn't stop acting as if Jesus matters. John most likely died, an old man, in Ephesus.
"With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight."
"While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, 'Have you anything here to eat?'
"They gave him a piece of baked fish;
"he took it and ate it in front of them."
"Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, 'Peace be with you.'
"Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.' "
(From NASA/ISS, used w/o permission.)
Matthew 25:35-46 says that feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, visiting folks in prison, and other practical expressions of charity, are a good idea: putting it mildly. (November 17, 2016)
Over the last two millennia, some of us have acted as if loving God, loving our neighbor, and seeing everyone as our neighbor, matter. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a recent high-profile example.
Some of us haven't. (September 14, 2014)
Helping individuals and building a better world is important. (November 22, 2015; July 5, 2015)
So is sharing the best news humanity's ever had: God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 3:17; Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:3-5; Catechism, 1-3, 52, 1825)
"For God so loved the world that he gave 7 his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.That, and a list of vaguely-related posts, seems like a good place to stop writing today:
"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn 8 the world, but that the world might be saved through him."
- "Defensive Architecture and Tobit"
(January 17, 2016)
(December 13, 2015)
- "Evil is Not Good"
(December 6, 2015)
- "Life, Death, and Love"
(November 1, 2015)
- "Hate People? Not an Option"
(September 6, 2015)