All of us have read or have heard the beautiful verses from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians that we read today. This reading is frequently used at weddings or at anniversary celebrations. Even movie makers have used these words. One of the most stirring was in the final scene from the 1968 film entitled “The Shoes of the Fisherman.” As a newly elected pope is crowned with the triple tiara, he stands before the throng, removes the crown and recites St. Paul’s immortal words as he promises to feed the hungry and starving people of the world. I confess; it’s one of my all-time favorite movies.
This is a call to love: to love deeply, to love always; to fully embrace God’s promise that nothing we have, nothing we do, is greater than love. It is inspirational. Aspirational. Absolutely beautiful. We must also admit that it is seemingly impossible! What is it about the human condition that keeps us from expressing and experiencing love in the way that God intended? How is it that this gift is so misunderstood, ill-used, and squandered?
Part of the answer to that question is found in today’s Gospel reading. Jesus points out that we are so quick to find fault with one another, to accuse and point fingers at ‘the other’, to refuse to listen with an open heart to find understanding. Jesus, in saying that “wisdom is vindicated by all her children” was calling his people, was calling us, to avoid such quick, child-like judgment or, in St. Paul’s words, to “put aside such childish things,” but rather to exercise the wisdom that results from reflection, understanding, perspective, time, patience, and yes, love.
The love of which we read in today’s first reading is virtually impossible. However, let us never stop trying to measure up to this aspirational account from St. Paul.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator