So very often 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 is read in secular or nominally Christian events. Our world aspires to the kind of love that Saint Paul puts forth here - and it does so with good reason. God has created all mankind to to be in communion with him and love and adore him. But we simply don’t have the capacity to do so because we gave it up when Adam and Eve sinned. Yet, we still “remember”…
In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13, Saint Paul speaks of great sacrifice as “being counted for nothing” without love.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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 have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
What is this love he is talking about? It sound like if someone would do all that he would love someone, right? Well, not necessarily. You see we cannot love purely because of motive. We all have mixed motives. Only God loves purely. There is a word for his love. The Greeks had not really used it much before Jesus.
The word is: ἀγάπη (agape) - “Charity”
“But what does it look like, St. Paul?” They would have asked. The simple answer is, “Jesus.” It looks like Jesus. Here is the expansion of the translation I gave on Sunday (verses 4-8).
Patient - 1 to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart
Kind – show self mild, merciful
Does Not Envy – burn with zeal, burn over
Does Not Boast
Is Not Arrogant – inflated, puffed up
Is Not Rude – embarrassing, disgraceful
Does not insist on its own way – selfish, self-serving
Is not irritable – literally to be sharp (short) provoke
Is not resentful – calculating (lit. record of wrongs, evils)
Does not rejoice in wrong-doing – not glad for injustice, violation
Rejoices in Truth
Bears all things – protect, defend, or cover
Believes in all things – (pistueo)
Hopes all things – (await assuredly, with confidence)
Endures all things - (remains and holds fast)
This kind of love can only be given. Like grace, it is a gift from God to be embraced and given to others both showing Jesus and emulating him. Pray for the Thological Virtue of Charity. Ask God to grow in it. Which part do you need to work on? Ask him. If you try to do it yourself you’ll fail, but if you ask the Holy Spirit to pour this into your heart, you cannot fail.