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A Song in Praise of Love

The thirteenth chapter of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians would almost certainly rank as in the top five favorite passages on most lists.  It is by far the shortest chapter in this letter and stands alone, needing no introduction and no explanation.  It was the first reading for yesterday’s liturgy for Ordinary Time, but we Franciscans were busy celebrating the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis.  So I missed the opportunity to include it in my daily blog.  Pardon me if I step back to consider it today.

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.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.  For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.  At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.  So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  I Corinthians 13:1-13)

Having already stated that it needs no explanation, I will not attempt to do so.  However, I want to simply remind you veteran movie watchers of the scene in “The Shoes of the Fisherman,” starring Anthony Quinn, of the final scene of the movie.  As the newly elected Pope was being crowned with the triple tiara, he used this passage to explain what he was going to do for the starving people of the world.  Aside from the fact that this movie is one of my all-time favorites, I still get goose bumps when I watch that scene. 

Morris West and the people who converted his novel into a movie probably never envisioned a man like Pope Francis and his insistent call to care for the poor and hungry people of the world.  How blessed to see the day when a man dressed in the white of the papacy would proclaim that our Church is a church of the poor for the poor! 

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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