Evaluating the Quality of our Love

27 January 2007. 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Cor 12, 31-13,13 Evaluating the Quality of our Love

Many claim that the 2nd reading from the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians is the most wonderful chapter in the New Testament. It is used very often in weddings and quoted in love notes. It will take a lifetime, however, to fully excavate its meaning. Paul tells us that a person may possess many gifts, but if it is without love, then that gift is useless. For example, one may have the gift of tongues, but does not have love, it is worthless. The gift of tongues is a characteristic of pagan worship of the gods Dionysius and Cybele. It is accompanied by the clanging of cymbals and the sound of trumpets. The gift of tongues was for the Romans a most coveted gift. But Paul tells the Corinthians that even with the most desirable gift, if they do not love, they are worthless. We can interpret it this way: a person may be a good-talker or a cultured conversationalist or even an intellectual, but if he or she does not love, his or her words are empty. Walang laman, walang kagat. Moreover, a person may practice charity, but without love, it is useless. A person may give dole-out goods, as a duty, sometimes with some contempt, like throwing out leftovers to a stray dog, is not genuine charity. It is arrogance, not love. In the end, what makes our talents meaningful are what make them enduring.

Paul lists fifteen characteristics of Christian love. We shall choose a few, but I would not repeat those that I have discussed sometime last year. First, love “does not brood over injury.” In other words, love does not store up the memory of any wrong it has received. The word translated store up (logizeshthai) is an accountant’s word. It is the word used for entering an item in a ledger (to log in) so that it will not be forgotten. That is what many of us do. In Polynesia, the natives are used to fighting and feasting. And it is also customary to keep reminders of one’s anger and wrongdoing. Articles such as a skull are suspended from the roofs of their huts to keep alive the memory of their wrongs — real or imaginary.” In the same way, nagtatanim tayo ng sama ng loob: we nurse our wrath to keep it warm; we brood over wrongs until it is impossible to forget the. Christian love has learned the great lesson of forgetting. Second, love rejoices with the truth. There are times when we definitely do not want the truth to prevail; and still more times when it is the last thing we wish to hear. Even if the truth is painful. Finally, love never flies into a temper. The real meaning of this passage is that we are never exasperated with people and with circumstances. We are people of hope and therefore, we always hope in people. If we forgive a person who has hurt us, we actually mean that we hope in him or her. Forgiveness is giving another chance for someone whom we believe can also change. If we can master our tempers, then we can control anything.

When we stayed glued to the television series such as Pangako sa ‘Yo, Bakekang, and Sana’y Maulit Muli, we believe in what Paul says, “Love can endure anything.” Love can bear any insult, any injury, any disappointment, any pain, any suffering, and any trial. At the end of the day, what matters is that we love.

And so today, we first name those we love. Who are they? Identify them. And then, look at the quality of our love by evaluating it according to the characteristics given by St. Paul. Do we brood over injury. Nagtatanim ba tayo ng sama ng loob sa ating minamahal? Second, do we hide certain things from our loved ones? Have we told them the whole truth about ourselves? Third, do we hope in them? Only when we continually evaluate the quality of our love, that it is purified, and it endures anything. As Christians, we always believe that today — and every day for that matter — is the best time to put some heart into our relationships.

*I took this photograph at Mia and Vir’s Wedding. Both UPSCANs.

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