5th Eastern Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

St Paul to the Corinthians I

By far, the most popular reading at a Christian wedding is the passage from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, in which Paul writes that “Love is patient; love is kind.” When I see that the bride and groom have chosen this passage, I always hope that they’ve included the preceding paragraph. In that paragraph, Paul writes the most extraordinary thing. He says that if we speak “in the tongues of.. angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong.. And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Even though we might think that spiritual gifts, all knowledge or all faith would be the greatest things a Christian could be given in faith, they are not. Paul goes so far as to say that without love they are nothing. It seems to me then, that if they are nothing without love, then love must be everything. This teaching of St Paul can help us so much to understand what it means to “walk the talk” of a disciple of the Lord.

Oftentimes, it isn’t so easy to figure out how we are to live our faith. It may seem that our work place isn’t conducive to proclaim the Gospel. It may seem that the schoolyard won’t welcome our proclamation. Or it may seem that our friends or relatives don’t want to hear us talk about our faith. And so we are left wondering, “How can I be a Christian in my life?” In the 2nd Reading, St John writes, “let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” Echoing St Paul, John reminds us what it means to proclaim the Gospel. And that is to love.

Often when we seek to love, we do so with great determination. For myself, when I begin my day I say, “today I will love no matter what.” All usually goes well until I meet a person who does not reciprocate the love I want to give. When this happens, I most often get angry and think of mean words that I would like to say, or make quick and harsh judgments of them. I think most of us would think that such a process is normal. In one way it is, but in another it is strictly abnormal. I want to be a Christian in every part of my life, not only in the smooth and easy ones. And being a Christian, a disciple of the Lord, is simply to love. Just as Christ loved under the most difficult circumstances, when it was hardest, so too are we. In loving, however, we are not left to our own devices or strength. On the contrary, our loving is our participation in Christ, in our God who is love. St John writes in the Gospel, “Abide in me as I abide in you.. Whoever abides in me and I in them bears much fruit.” The fruit the Jesus speaks of is our freedom to love generously. We love because we are loved. The Psalmist says that we “shall live for him.” This Sunday, let us commit ourselves together to “live for him” more intently. That is, let us commit ourselves to love more generously. And by doing so, we become people of faith, we become Christians.

God Bless and Take Care,
—Fr John

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