Welcome to Catholic Schools Week!
Our One in Christ Catholic Communities are blessed to support three Catholic Schools -- - St. Francis Xavier, St. Katherine Drexel, and Cathedral High School. Our schools are part of Catholic Community Schools (CCS). In addition to providing first class education to students, our schools help our youth develop their faith through discussion and service. This year’s theme is: Faith. Excellence. Service.
I invite you to check out our schools, set up a time for a visit. You will not be disappointed. Yes, there is tuition, but with our parish support and the efforts of the CCS admissions team, all students will be able to have a place in a classroom.
Take a poll of favorite passages from the Letters of St. Paul, and our second reading today would be at the top of the list. A frequent choice for weddings and funerals, people often refer to it as Paul’s hymn to love. Paul probably wrote this passage to critique the Corinthians and their cherished spiritual gifts.
In our time we seldom argue about our spiritual gifts --- Gifts of healing, Workings of miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of spirits, Different kinds of tongues, Interpretation of tongues ---- but for the Corinthians in Paul’s time, people took pride in their spiritual gift. The arguing over the spiritual gifts lead to great divisions among the Corinthians and led Paul to write this hymn to love.
Paul is not criticizing the various gifts the people in this community have received. Gifts come from the Spirit: They are good in origin — as is all of creation. But unless the gifts are expressions and extensions of love, they are being perverted.
Looking into our times, Paul’s wisdom still holds. All of us have our God given gifts. They are also good in origin. But unless we use our gifts in love, we are not building up the kingdom. The love Paul defines is a selfless love which reaches out for the good of the other.
The Greek word Paul uses for love in this passage is agape.
This is not the sexual love of eros; nor is it philia, which denotes affection based on friendship. Agape connotes a love and respect for another regardless of shared affection or personal attraction. Agape is the manner in which God loves, and those created in God’s image are called to lovein the same way.
The love Paul is describing is not based on feeling, but rather it is a decision to act. A decision to reach out in respect even if it is not returned. For this is how God loves. Jesus did not condemn those who crucified him, rather he asked his Father to forgive them.
The challenge for each of us is to realize that agape love finds ways to live with others in disagreement, to discover ways to live respectfully with one another. As one writer noted, “ No one has been equipped in the exact same way each of us has been gifted. No one has been given the same set of circumstances to employ those gifts for the common good as we have.
No matter how much opposition we face, we can be certain through faith that God wants us to use our gifts to build up the body of Christ with love. There’s no other way to do it, even if that doesn’t always make sense right here and now.
Have a faith filled week.