Partial to Love

Monday, October 14, 2013 — Week of Proper 23, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 1, 2, 3 (morning) // 4, 7 (evening)

Jeremiah 36:11-26

1 Corinthians 13:(1-3)4-13

Matthew 10:5-15

I used to think that today’s second reading was familiar to nearly everyone who had been to a wedding or two in their lives. However, a few years ago I attended the wedding of someone with a very secular family and circle of friends. The couple included this passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in their ceremony, and afterward there was quite a buzz: “Did you know that that reading was from the BIBLE?” People were amazed.

I was amazed too, but for a different reason. How sad that people don’t instantly recognize these words as some of the greatest treasures that the Christian faith offers to the world. It seems that we are better known for defining the boundaries in which love is allowed than for inspiring and teaching people to improve the quality of love wherever it exists.

Paul desires to improve the love that we have for each other. He reminds us, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful . . .” No matter how many times I hear these words, they always seem to catch me in the act of impatience or irritability!

This passage also stuns me with Paul’s admission that, as Christians, our knowledge of the world is always partial. Human prophecy, speech, and knowledge will all fade in accuracy and relevance; only love can outlast them all. This passage shows us that the Christian revelation can only be completed by love. Paul writes, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.” No Christian journey is complete without face-to-face encounters between beings learning to love one another, and ultimately between us and the divine.

What can we do today that puts these messages of the Christian faith front and center? First, that our Christian mission is to improve the depth, quality, authenticity, and durability of love; and second, that although our knowledge of the world is only partial, we’re confident that love is the most enduring principle in our universe. May our hearts burn today to send these messages to those we meet, and to those who graciously endure us at our most stubborn, irritable, or unkind.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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