For our homily today - I met with the Junior Religious Ed class to help me get ideas.
I’ll warn you the homily is mainly going to focus on the 2nd reading- and it’s one most of us have probably heard many times in our lives – and mainly at weddings. So often, perhaps, that as soon as we hear ‘love is patient’, we either can finish the reading in our heads, or our minds immediately turn to focus on something else. It’s a great reading about love and yes – it does fit very well with weddings – but, that’s not why it was written…. Paul wasn’t intending to write to newly married couples. He was writing this for you and me – and the message is a lot stronger than any of us might remember after hearing it several times.
So I invite you to listen with fresh ears. Ask yourself as Paul speaks – how does this apply to me? How should this impact my DAILY life? In fact, how should this impact every moment of my life, including this very second?
Some people complain that religion is too black and white – that life is made up of a lot of gray area and religion is just too strict and becomes pious, irrelevant babble.
On the other hand, a lot of people complain that religion is too wishy-washy – that so many things are a ‘mystery’ and we can’t really KNOW anything, so religion is TOO gray to provide answers in the hard questions of life.
And to those people, I’d say, “you’re right!”… and I’d like to apologize if that has frustrated you and pushed you away from Christianity. See, a lot of Christians just kind-of go to church on Sunday and religion doesn’t really impact the rest of their week. In fact, you might not even KNOW they were Christian. The outspoken Christians – the ones you KNOW are Christian – usually fall into one of two sterotypes: there’s the staunch doctrinal self-righteous finger pointer who declares everything is black and white and to hell with anyone who steps out of line! At the other end are the nice guys who always have a smile and never have answers and anything goes because God is all about Love, so why can’t we all just get along. Again – these are just sterotypes – doesn’t describe anybody in here - but these are how much of the world views us!
Given those two options, is it any wonder so many people reject Christianity?
Jesus was about more than doctrines and butterflies. He came not just to teach us, but to SHOW us how to Love. That is the heart of Christianity. The purpose of our religion – the purpose of our LIVES, is to become more like God – and God is Love, so the more we Love, the more we’re like God. They’ll know we are Christians by our …Love, so the song goes. It’s not just a catchy tune or phrase, this is the heart of what it means to LIVE as a Christian. It’s more than doing Christian things, it’s about being the hands and feet of Love.
Paul gives several one-liners about how we fail in that. If I speak without Love, I am a noisy gong. If I do anything to boast, but don’t have love, I gain nothing. This reading is not just a nice reading for weddings… it instructs us how to live as Christians.
This is VERY practical advice here… if I speak without love, I am a noisy gong. How many people do we know who keep beating their drums without love and we just stop listening to them?
Know anybody who does great things, but they only do it so they can brag about it? Paul says, if I give away everything but don’t do it for love – it gains me nothing!
Let this scripture instruct you personally… An easy way to do that is to change-out the word Love with YOUR name.
So, instead of Love is Patient, Love is Kind…. Bill is Patient. Susan is kind. Greg is not Jealous. Eugene is not pompous. Maggie is not rude. Cayden is not quick-tempered. Dave does not brood over injury. Tammy does not rejoice over wrongdoing. Keep going… this is an instruction booklet for how we should live! Hmmm… we could also use this as an examination of conscience. When we’re preparing for reconciliation, read it and think – when was I NOT kind…NOT patient…when did I speak without love?
Hopefully you can see that Christianity is way more than finger pointing and way more than “let’s all get along”. The early Christians were known for one thing: “See how they love one another”. That love was – and continues to be – a magnet, drawing people to Christ.
In all things we do… in ALL things we do… let Love be our guide. Love never fails.