Love Is What God Is
Feb 1, 2019
Gospel Reflection, 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 1: 4-5, 17-19, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12: 31 – 13:13; Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 21-30
Love Is What God Is
Today we have the privilege of hearing one of the great scripture passages of the bible – Saint Paul’s reflection on love. Love is so central. Love is what God is. Everything that we speak of at church centers around the reality of love. “If I speak in angelic tongues, but have not love, I am a noisy gong, a clashing cymbal…” Everything revolves around love. Therefore, it is the way for us to organize and prioritize life. “If I have faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” Faith! Isn’t that what God desires? Yes, but if I do not have love I am nothing.
So what is love? Saint Thomas Aquinas says that to love is to will the good of the other. It is not to do so through myself. It is not to do nice things in order to get attention, or so that people like me. It is to break free of our egos and to want what is good for the other. That is what God is!
Saint Paul goes on: “Love is patient, love is kind.” Love doesn’t say, “I have tried” and gives up. Love is willing to suffer for the other. “It is not jealous.” Jealousy is always born out of egoism. “It does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered and does not brood over injury.” This is because it is not preoccupied with oneself, but rather the other.
Love rejoices in the truth. When someone is living in accord with the truth, the person of love rejoices in that. Love “bears all things.” This is because it puts up with all things because it wants the good of the other. The person of love will do that. It bears the burdens of the other. Think of the wife or husband or parent doing that for their children, for example. The person of love hopes all things. Think of Saint John Paul II who endured Nazism and Communism and saw his Jewish friends disappear.
“Love never fails.” Why? It is because God is love. God is eternal. God never fails. “If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, the will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.” This is because this world is passing away. But God is eternal. And God is love, so love will never pass away. Saint Paul goes on to say that we will be utterly conformed to love in the kingdom of heaven, so to live life even now in a way knowing that love is the deepest reality of life, is the key to happiness. That is how a spiritually mature person thinks – to love first, to love last, and to love in all things. May God bless us in our love for each other.