How Important Is Love?

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A Reflection on the Mass Readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:1-3)

When taken as a whole, the readings from this Sunday?s Mass are incredibly powerful. If we fail to do that and selectively choose our favorite concepts, however, we can easily get into big trouble and completely miss the point. Yes, it?s important to live our Catholic Faith and speak the truth, but there?s more to it than that. As St. Paul clearly states, we must do it with love. Otherwise, we are doing more harm than good.

The Gospel and First Reading for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us of the importance of speaking the truth and expecting opposition, but the Second Reading lays down some important groundwork. As Christians, all that we say or do must be done with charity. And, although it sounds simple, it is not always easy.

You don?t need me to tell you that there is a great deal of nastiness on social media. Some of it is just mean spirited ugliness, but there is another kind that is more insidious. What often begins as an attempt to evangelize or share the truth sometimes turns into name calling or worse. Just because we are pro-life or pro-Catholic doesn?t give us the right to belittle or berate those who disagree with our position. Those individuals we attack are sons and daughters of our Father. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Far from being empty rhetoric, this is the absolute truth. God loves them and so must we. Have I violated this principle in the past? You bet. It was a painful lesson to learn, but I now know that I was wrong.

Jesus wants us to speak the truth, but He expects us to do it with love. It can be difficult, but with His grace it is possible. It?s not a suggestion, it?s a commandment. As Christians, it?s what we do!

?I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.? (John 13:34)

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