Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 7:31-35)
Pope Benedict XVI wrote as helpful a reflection on love as one can hope to fine. His encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love) asks a critical question: Are there different kinds of love, or is it a single reality? If there are different kinds, then some kinds would have a higher quality than others. In classical terms agape, normally considered as selfless love, would be better than eros or desire. Quite unexpectedly, Benedict holds that love is singular, that agape is but a purified form of eros. Paul’s great elegy on love, comprising today’s first reading, should be read with Benedict’s insight in mind.
The passage consistently uses agape, yet it is the reading of choice at wedding ceremonies. Its context bespeaks union, but its words relate consideration and care for the other. It implies that love is the greatest of the virtues because it is most God-like. While it does not deny one’s own desires, it seeks first the good of the other.
St. Therese of Lisieux was surely correct when she recognized that through love anyone could achieve the highest of human desires – sanctity and eternal life. Whether we are married, religious, or single if we dedicate ourselves to loving others we will not only brings others happiness but also find it ourselves.