St Paul’s Most Excellent Way

Today at Mass we heard St Paul’s famous explication of love. We usually hear this passage read at wedding ceremonies. St Paul presents Love as The Way just after correcting the Christians at Corinth, who were giving disproportionate esteem for certain spiritual gifts (e.g., speaking in tongues), as we sometimes do today. While we should strive to grow spiritually, and we are called to use the gifts God gave us, Paul tells us that the Way of Love (Jesus, who is the Way) is the most excellent way, superior to the spiritual gifts previously discussed. More importantly, without love, exercising the spiritual gifts God gave us merit us nothing.

A popular spiritual exercise is to read the passage and replace the word “love” with your own name. This examination of love helps us see where we stand in relation to Jesus’ command to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Scripture of the Day: 1 Corinthians 12:31–13:13

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

The way of love. But I shall show you still a more excellent way.

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.

[insert your name] is patient, [insert your name] is kind.
[insert your name] is not jealous,
[insert your name] is not pompous,
[insert your name] is not inflated,
[insert your name] is not rude,
[insert your name] does not seek its own interests,
[insert your name] is not quick-tempered,
[insert your name] does not brood over injury,
[insert your name] does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but [insert your name] rejoices with the truth.

[insert your name] 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.

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