Sunday, January 30, 2022
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.
In the cinematic triumph, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Yukon Cornelius is the de facto leader of a gang of misfits and an unsuccessful prospector. While seeking gold, he throws his pickaxe into the air, takes a lick to see what it unearthed, and dejectedly exclaims, “Nothin’!” The claymation animated movie takes a turn from the famous song featuring a self-serving Santa. Instead of Rudolph being “loved” because of his usefulness, Santa, the elves, and the reindeer learn to love Rudolph first, and then–and only then–do they discover the amazing gift that is his glowing nose.
In what might be the most used scripture passage at weddings, St. Paul does not speak of marital love, but rather of charity or charitable love (in fact, the two words are used somewhat interchangeably in most English translations of the Bible). So yes, all the patience and kindness, not boasting and all that good stuff are absolutely things to bring to a marriage, but it goes much wider than that. The first part of the passage, starting at the end of chapter 12, indicates we can exhibit any number of valuable gifts and traits, but these alone account for “nothing.” Love is the virtue that adds value to our gifts. In fact, can be a prophet and scripturally wise and mystically knowledgeable, but without love (exhibited by the laundry list of attributes in versus 4-8), “I am nothing.” Likewise, I can be charitable without charity, and even a martyr for the faith, but without love, “I gain nothing.” Without love, any gold on the end of my pickaxe is “nothin’.”
The greatest gift we are given is the same greatest gift we must share. Love. Unconditional, thorough, and charitable love. This love alone will allow us to properly discover and appreciate our own, and each others’, gifts.
Lord Jesus, to find love I must show love, act in love, live love. Love is a gift from the Father, made manifest in you, and given to me to share with others. May I do so with reckless abandon, leaving nothing behind. Amen