Sunday, April 6, 2014

Love is greater

This is a strange truth that we are all familiar with, usually even knowing the bible reference, 1 Corinthians 13 (verse 13), by heart, and without being a bible scholar. Yet, on the whole, we often act as though we'd never heard it.

Confessional Christianity (that's most of us) put doctrine first so we can protect ourselves from those who do not accept the truth, that is, the doctrine set that we believe in.

Then, maybe next in priority we place faith, that is, trusting in God and not just believing in Him—for even devils do that!

Hope we put in there somewhere but not always, since many of us have long ago given up on the unsaved who are just so darn ornery that they probably deserve to be damned, and so we don't bother to witness to them.

But love, if we even know what it is, since the culture has hijacked it and uses the word to describe anything from pure, unadulterated lust to any fleeting desire of the moment, yes, love, well, we know how to show it to those who love us (if they love us back) and we know how to love ourselves, but the kind of love that apostle Paul is writing about here, it's just a fairy tale to be read aloud in quaint wedding services or, if we're liturgical, it finds its place somewhere during the year in a regular Sunday service.

Christ help us! Even when we know what love is, how hard it is for us to really show it while forgetting ourselves!

As for the Orthodox, we have a saint, recently reposed and probably not to be canonized, whose name was Gavrilia Papayanni. She was an unsung moneyless missionary of love to the poor of many countries, particularly India, where she performed the healing arts (she was a physiotherapist) including working with the lepers as did her famous contemporary Mother Teresa of Calcutta. We call her 'Mother Gavrilia" and the Indians call her 'Sister Lila'.

She used to say, 'Love alone is enough to make a miracle happen. Neither Prayer nor the Komboskini (Prayer rope) have such power.'

I think for us who try to live the ancient faith, we understand exactly what she means. Yes, we can and should pray for the healing and salvation of our neighbors, but we can really do so only if we love them first. Love not only covers all offenses, but heals all wounds. Yes, as apostle Paul says, 'and the greatest of these is love.'

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