1 Cor 12:31-13:13
For the past month, I’ve been reading the spiritual diary of Pope St John Paul II.
There is a quote that he refers to often, cited in the Catechism (1022), and from St John of the Cross:
“At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love”.
There are many things we do in life, but it is whether we do them in love that will be the basis of our judgment.
This is a very powerful way to focus on the meaning of the second reading we heard from St Paul, which was on love.
Love needs to be the thing that animates all our activity.
When I start my day, the alarm is going. I will have ahead of me a range of tasks,
some complex, some mundane,
some enjoyable, some taxing.
When the alarm goes off all that lies ahead is before me.
But if it all is to have VALUE, then it needs to be done with love.
Otherwise, to quote St Paul, I might “move mountains, but without love, I am nothing at all” (1 Cor 13;2),
and my activity is nothing at all.
I might need to clean and tidy things up today.
I might do that efficiently, but with no real consideration of others.
I get the task done, it is finished.
But woe betide anyone in my way!
However, if I clean and tidy up, and do it with love, then I clean and tidy up very differently.
I am aware of the REASON I am doing this
-so the house will be clean FOR OTHERS
-they come here, or live here, I want it to be nice FOR THEM
And, or, I clean my kitchen
-so my kitchen will be clean FOR GOD
-it’s God world, it’s Gods house, He wants it to be its best, so I clean it FOR HIM.
Let me pause and define love. The Catechism, quoting St Thomas Aquinas, defines love this way:
"To love is to will the good of another"(CCC 1766, citing St. Thomas, ST I-II q26 a4).
I think of someone;
I think of what is GOOD for that person;
And I choose to WILL the good for that person.
If this is how I am doing every task, then it transforms every task.
Working with love, brings JOY to the task, because I am thinking of the beloved.
Working with love, brings SATISFACTION to the task, because I see its value for the person I am loving.
One final example: relaxing.
Everyone needs to relax, just like the body needs to sleep.
There is a way of relaxing that is selfish -it’s all about ME.
There is another way of relaxing, that truly relaxes, but knows this relaxation is what enables to serve others at other times. THIS way of relaxing brings love, even into the relaxation.
Why am I relaxing now? So I can serve others later.
“At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love”(CCC 1022).
That might sound, on one level, like a sweet thought, but it can also be a fearful one: what if we have not lived a loving life?
In fact, Friday night, the night of the day when I had written the first draft of sermon, I examined my conscience and saw an absence of love that day.
It had felt a busy day, a full day, a day of many divergent parts.
But I reflected that there had been little love in that busy-ness.
If, near the of life, I have the same sense, the solution is the same: repent.
Confess my lack of love to the God who is love.
Back to the text from St Paul: love is the only thing that truly lasts.
If we’re busy moving mountains, but not for love, then those mountains will crumble to dust.
But if we move those mountains, or even those molehills, with love,
then the activity I launch into when my alarm goes off -the mountains I build will endure in eternity.