Jesus is Love — 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

Today’s second reading from St. Paul is perhaps his most known and most loved. You’ve probably heard it at weddings—perhaps you remember hearing it at your own, but most people don’t realize that St. Paul wrote these words to a community in disunity.

The Christian church in Corinth, Greece was divided. Various factions insisted that they were right, that they had “wisdom,” even as they bitterly quarreled with each other. St. Paul acknowledged what the Corinthians possessed in gifts and knowledge, and they had both, but he shined light upon how incomplete they were. “Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts,” he says, “But I shall show you a still more excellent way.” And then he teaches them about love.

Love is easy when it’s warm and fuzzy, and no one needs a lesson on doing what comes naturally. But how are we to behave when personalities conflict and there are serious disagreements and old resentments within our families, at work, or in our parish? During these times of tension, let us think of Christ and embrace Him as our model for action.

Jesus is patient.  Jesus is kind. In a way, Jesus is jealous, He’s jealous for our souls, but Jesus never manipulates others. He is not pompous. He is not inflated. He is not rude. Jesus is humble. He does not seek His own interests. He is not quick-tempered. He does not brood over injuries, no matter how unjust. He does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things and endures all things. Look at how He responded in Nazareth when His own acquaintances, whom He had known almost all of His life, turned against Him:

“They were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.  But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”

Jesus knew exactly what they were up to as they led Him towards the plummeting edge of town, and He could have turned and walked out on them whenever He chose, so why did He give even them the time of day? Jesus was patient, he was humble, and He endured this trial in hopes that He might lead them from their wrong way and restore personal communion with them. When they were just about to throw Him down, Jesus walked away, for the time had not yet come for Him to lay down His life for love of them.

God assures us through St. Paul that “love never fails.” The love of Jesus Christ never fails, even if we can’t see how, even if His victory, as for the souls for the community of Nazareth, takes more than a single day to accomplish. “Love never fails,” so follow Christ in this most excellent way; at home, at work, and in our church, and the promise of this Scripture passage, that “love never fails,” will be fulfilled in us.

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