Why Did Paul Write about Love?

The second reading from last Sunday (Feb 3, 2013) was from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about love.  This is the common reading we often hear at weddings, including mine and Sarah’s.  I decided to dig a bit deeper into this reading and visited various websites to do my research.  I was truly intrigued by what I learned and just how powerful love truly is.

Why did Paul even write to the Corinthians? 

Corinth Greece 1024Corinth was a bustling port city in ancient Greece where Paul established an early Christian church.  Corinth was a tough community for Paul to convert.  The Corinthians seemed to have been stubborn and set in their own ways; after 18 months of evangelizing and establishing a Christian community, Paul felt it was time to leave.  But many issues quickly arose, and people in Corinth were not living up to the Christian values about which Paul preached.  With so many travelers in the area came sexual immorality; the citizens of Corinth were fighting and suing each other, people were drunk, and ultimately everyone was treating each other poorly.  The Church in Corinth was in trouble.

In that era, congregations did not gather in assemblies or halls but, rather, in homes.  Chloe was a Christian woman, the head of one of these homes. Chloe wrote a letter to Paul informing him about the corruption in Corinth and the fledgling Christian Church there, and asked him for advice and direction.

Paul’s response was detailed in his first letter to the Corinthians that we find in the New Testament. One of the first teachings that Paul brings up is that our body is sacred and a temple of the Holy Spirit.  He reminded the Corinthians about the importance of marriage and being loyal and faithful to your spouse. If someone was unmarried, he taught that they were to remain celibate and to refrain from sexual permissiveness.

Paul began to encourage the Corinthians to live as new persons in Christ.  To treat people with kindness, help the poor, and respect others – to live a life of metanoia, which is the conscientious turning away from an old life (of paganism) to new life in Jesus Christ.

And so here we are today.

As one reads the First Letter to the Corinthians, we as Christians need to bring the same message to our present day world. Between the conflicts across the globe, sexual immorality, hatred and other sins, we must still heed Paul’s message and apply it to our own situations.  But it’s Paul’s big finish that sums it up for all of us – the gift of love.  Paul emphasizes that what people want is love, and that love is the greatest gift God has given to us.  He wanted the Corinthians to love one other and to make love the reason for everything they did and said.  As Jesus taught.

all you need is loveLike most of us, each time I hear the reading about faith, hope and love–“and the greatest of these is love”–I immediately think about weddings and marriage.  But after studying more about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians I am convinced that love is everything.  And that The Beatles, though perhaps not great examples of how to live one’s life, had it right when they sang, “All you need is love.”

“Be a Man” Who Takes His Family to Church

Two years ago my father-in-law gave me the book “Be a Man” by Fr. Larry Richards. This is one of my favorite books and I have read it multiple times. Fr. Richards explains that to “be a man” we are to live as the son of God, be strong, be faithful and be committed. Essentially, we need to “grow a pair” (sorry), man-up and have a strong backbone.

Be a Man, by Fr. Larry Richards

Be a Man who is Holy

Fr. Richards explains that one of the ways we are to “Be a Man” is to be a man who is Holy. Since my vocation is marriage I have to do everything in my possible will to make it so my wife and children get to Heaven. Not only do I have to be a strong example, a good teacher, a loving husband and father but I also need to put my family in situations that allow them to grow and practice their faith. Well, today I blew it.

Typically, our family goes to 8am Sunday Mass and my wife and I have a pretty good system for getting our three kids awake, fed, everyone showered, dressed and out the door. Normally, we have a relaxing drive to Mass and I enjoy that time to reflect on where we are in the liturgical calendar and the day’s readings. But this morning I was moving a bit slow. Although I got the kids fed I decided to make them a bigger breakfast than normal and allowed them to watch a little bit of TV so I could read an interesting article I came across online. Meanwhile, my wife is doing her due diligence in our typical Sunday morning routine. Although the article I read was very interesting it was way too long and now it is getting late. So I gasped when I saw the clock and ran the kids upstairs to get them dressed while proceeding to  negotiate with them because I seemed to have selected clothing they all clearly disagreed with. So I left it to Sarah, my wife, to fix it so I can start to get ready. With less than 5 minutes before the start of Mass we jumped in the car and drove to Mass and walked in during the Gloria. We were late. But that is not exactly where I missed the mark. When we got to Mass my mind was not on the Mass and I assume that would be the same for my wife. It took us until after the homily to finally relax but I had no idea what just happened before.  I didn’t listen to the readings and my mind was wandering. Then I sat there in guilt because I was not a man who allowed my family to get to Mass on time and with clear minds.  This is not being a man who is Holy.

If I am to “Be a Man” who is to create the best situation for my family to practice and grow in their Catholic faith then I failed today. A strong man is someone who puts his whole family first and not himself. The article I read in the morning could have waited or I could have woken up 15 minutes earlier.

~Be a Man and God Bless.~