July 09, 2009

1 Cor 13

Love is patient, love is kind...
Steven Riddle's recent post on 1 Cor 13 got me to thinking about my own providential evolution on the passage. It was "sickeningly sweet" back in the '80s, the sort of sentimental lines that every wedding had to include and perhaps reminded of me mainly of my lack of a steady girlfriend. Perhaps, too, the lines had become meaningless thru repetition, or perhaps the expressions contained within ("endureth all things"? Really?) seemed merely an impossible goal.

But many years later it occurred to me that God must be all those things in the passage because God = love. It occurred to me that God would not NOT practice what he preached in the Bible. If there's one guarantee in life, it's that God does live up to the standard he asks of us. Thus every passage in which he tells us to love, He is indirectly telling us he loves us!

For example, take the story of the Good Samaritan. I never, ever dreamed of reading that as the story of Christ. I thought of it only as a guilt-inducing parable. But then the homilist on Maundy Thursday in 2000 told us that Jesus is the good Samaritan who found us (prodigy of Adam) lying half-dead in the street and paid the price for us and saved our lives and took us to the hospital (Church). Every exegesis I'd ever heard previously made this an instruction to love our neighbors. But to love our neighbors because of (and out of) love of God seems quantitatively different, doesn't it? To love out of thankfulness instead of out of only duty?


Ellyn said...


(And 1 Corinthians always sounded like it had been written by Dan Fogelberg.)

I'm sort of like Mark Twain - the older I get the smarter God is.

TS said...

Ha, very Fogelberg-ish. If I were a plagiarist I'd update my post with your line!

Roz said...

Why do we consistently click into guilt-induced mode like that? I do that, even though I have no childhood memories of having the Bible used as a merciless measuring rod. I suppose it reveals part of Satan's strategy for this age - disempower God's word by making it seem to be a tool of the "accuser of the brethren".

Likewise, for instance, is my often negative response to the passage about putting on the whole armor of God. I tend to relate to it like "Oh swell. I have all I can do to live my plain old life on God's terms, and now he's telling me I have to suit up to go join a battle somewhere!" But instead, it occurs to me, armor is protective and weapons are effective. If I'm already in the battle (which might account for that beaten-up feeling that comes from time to time), how much better to be well-shielded and equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry than out there vulnerable without aid.

Three cheers for a change in perspective.

TS said...

So true Roz, we're already in battle so might as well don the gear!

And when I fall into that trap of guilt-inducement I sometimes think, "gees, what a Catholic thing" so it's interesting to hear that it's not a Catholic exclusive. Of couse the strange thing is that I was raised in the '70s when there was no such thing as sin... So I think Satan's hand is in this tendency.