I used to ask myself, why we have to read the same biblical texts in church every year and then hear the same message? Well, I thank God for finding ways to answer me.
Some weeks ago, as I was getting ready for church I switched on my small radio to listen to another service (this is what I usually do on Sundays so as to have different interpretations of the same texts) and the theme that day was “love” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. The preacher shared some ways of love which were developed by Chiara Lubich.
- Looking well: learn to see each person as being child of the same father (God).
- To love no matter what: wanting the best for all.
- To love concretely: knowing who is my neighbor.
- To love means to serve.
- To love the all day: how to approach each encounter without forgetting to love throughout the day.
- Love is universal: love is valid for everyone and for every age.
- To love first: not waiting for the other to do the first move because God loved us first.
The preacher ended his sermon with the following words: “Love does not mean having feelings, but it means wishing well to others. With love, the world will be a better place.”
On the bus to church, I was thinking about this sermon and so many thoughts came to my mind. I was thinking of the many times when I had to choose who my neighbor was, who to love, who to serve… Well, this was too much and yet I still had to listen to my pastor’s sermon on that same topic (By the way I really love my pastor’s preaching).
At church, Pastor Andy insisted on the fact that love means solidarity and he actually gave the example of the refugees’ crisis. He spoke of actions carried by different communities (fishermen, families…) to welcome refugees. These communities had never met those refugees before, but despite of their social and financial situations they offered shelter and food to the refugees.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude… For once I really analyzed this passage. How many times have I insisted on my own ways of doing things? How many times have I chosen who to love based on superficial characteristics? How many times have I decided not to love because someone has not been nice to me or because I was too judgmental?
Politicians or other people might be looking at the refugees as data, but other communities have chosen to look at them as brothers and sisters. The refugees have nothing to give them in return, yet the communities welcomed them. This example reflects all the 7 ways to love developed by Chiara, and I conclude that love does not have boundaries and indeed the world would have been a better place if love was real.
Today God is calling us to open our eyes and reach out to others. Who are the refugees in our lives? Who are the people that need our love today? Who is my neighbor? Which person is God calling me to love today? Love makes us go beyond our comfort zones. Love is beyond feelings, love is Christ in us.
I thank God for this message and also for showing me new ways of looking at the scripture. It might be the same reading every year, but God opens a new window of understanding every year. It is a good reminder!
My prayer today as we all reflect on this passage is that we all learn to love one another with actions beyond words. May The Holy Spirit guide us as we continue our journey.
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. Love never ends…” -1 Corinthians 3: 1-2
World Council of Churches, Switzerland
GMF International, Class 2014