Has any Scripture been read more often at weddings than 1 Corinthians 13?
Brides and Grooms dare to remind themselves that, if they do not have love, they will become resounding gongs or clashing cymbals. They turn to the Apostle Paul for inspired words to describe the love to which they aspire. The love for which they long is:
- Patient and kind, not jealous or boastful or rude;
- Generous, not irritable or resentful;
- It forgives and rejoices in the other;
- It bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things.
At the heart of Pope Francis' powerful reflection on Christian marriage, we find a beautiful meditation on Paul's poetic passage (AL, nn. 90-119). Let's ask for the grace to appreciate love in marriage as Holy Father Francis does:
- Love is patient; it "does not act on impulse and avoids giving offense" (n. 91). It is a covenantal love which never allows itself to be used or abused, but which compassionately accepts the other person as he or she is.
- Love is kind, at the service of others, because it means "to do good" to the other; it embodies "the nobility and grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving" (n. 94).
- Love is not jealous, or envious, of the other person's good fortune. "True love values the other person's achievements," Pope Francis reminds us, "It does not see him or her as a threat" (n. 95).
- Love is not boastful, nor does it tend toward vainglory; it avoids being "haughty, pedantic and somewhat pushy" (n. 97). Love should never become "puffed up" with its own knowledge or power. "In family life, the logic of domination and competition about who is the most intelligent or powerful destroys love" (n. 98).
- Love is not rude, or impolite, or harsh, or abrasive, or rigid (n. 99). Pope Francis offers the practical advice that "To be open to a genuine encounter with others, a 'kind look' is essential....In our families, we must learn to imitate Jesus’ own gentleness in our way of speaking to one another" (n. 100).
- Love is generous because "love can transcend and overflow the demands of justice, 'expecting nothing in return'" (n. 102).
- Love is not irritable or resentful; rather, it uproots hostility and resentment. Like a good Papa, Francis advises that a family never let the day end without making peace: "Just a little caress, no words are necessary" (n. 104).
- Love forgives, since it seeks to understand the weaknesses of others and even excuse them. How is this possible? "All this assumes that we ourselves have had the experience of being forgiven by God, justified by his grace and not by our own merits.We have known a love that is prior to any of our own efforts, a love that constantly opens doors, promotes and encourages " (n. 108).
- Love rejoices with others--rejoices in the right--rather than secretly rejoicing in the failure of others. "If we fail to learn how to rejoice in the well-being of others, and focus primarily on our own needs, we condemn ourselves to a joyless existence" (n. 110).
- Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things: "Here we see clearly the counter-cultural power of a love that is able to face whatever might threaten it" (n. 111)! This includes holding one's tongue, trusting and setting others free, being transformed by Christ's resurrection, and standing ready to confront any challenge.
Viva la famiglia!