Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s second reading is one of the most beautiful sections of the New Testament, the great Pauline reflection on love[1]. St. Paul begins by presenting some of the real difficulties experienced by the community in their celebration of the Lord’s Supper. He tells them that they are celebrating the Eucharist incorrectly. At the time that Paul wrote to this community, about the year 57, the Eucharist was still celebrated as part of a full meal. By the time that Paul wrote his letter, things were starting to break down. Factions and groups were forming. The rich were bringing good food and drink for themselves and their friends and the poor were left to fend for themselves, so St. Paul corrects the Corinthians by going right to the heart of what the Eucharist is all about: at the Lord's Supper everyone shared the one bread of Christ, making the participants one body, one community of love and salvation. Dividing into factions was in direct conflict with Jesus' own life[2].

St. Paul reprimanded the Corinthians because their failure to serve all the members of the community ignored the very nature of the Church and in a real and frightful way despised the actions of the One who founded it.

Sadly, we all have experience similar situations, people who claimed to have great faith but who lacked love. We have all met people who were so stern, so harsh in their dealings with others, so rigid in what they thought was proper Christianity that they drove their children out of their families and, if they were priests, their people out of their parishes. Without love, they had nothing. Without love, we, as individuals and as Church, are nothing.

The letter of St. Paul could be a good examination of conscience today. Perhaps it would be easier to understand this text of St. Paul if we added the words man or woman after each sentiment: Love is a patient man, a patient woman. Love is a kind man, a kind woman. Love is a person who is not boastful, or rude, or self serving, or quick tempered, or full or revenge. Love is a truthful person, a man or woman of integrity. A loving man, a loving woman puts up with everything for the sake of being loving. No matter what happens in the world, his or her love remains strong. In less word: Love never fails[3].

So, my brother, my sister, as Christians, as Catholics our focus must be on living the Love of God. If we do this, then we will be able to do that which no physical person can do, we will be able to see God face to face. Then we will know Him as He really is[4].

Love is central to being an authentic Christian. You and I were created to be unique reflections of God’s presence. Let us say easier: we were created to actualize, to make real, a unique reflection of His love.

This great hymn wrote by St. Paul is far more than a reflection to be read during marriage celebrations. It is a statement of that which is essential for authentic Christianity.

My brother, my sister, when we die, we will go before the Lord with nothing in our hands except our love. If we have loved in an authentic Christian way, if we have loved the way that Christ has loved, then we will stand before the Creator.

If we have loved as He calls us to love, we will be absorbed by Him yet still be individuals. We will see Him face to face. And He will have our faces, and we will have His ■

[1] 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13.
[2] Sunday 31st January, 2010, 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19. I will sing of your salvation—Ps 70(71):1-6, 15, 17. 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13. Luke 4:21-30. [St John Bosco].
[3] Cfr 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13.
[4] Cfr Eucharistic Prayer III.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris