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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Luke 4:21-30
February 3, 2019

This passage from 1 Corinthians is one of the suggested readings for weddings.  I think couples pick it as their second reading in about half of the weddings I have done.  Do they pick it just because it talks about love?

When we first begin to discuss their wedding ceremony and what readings they might pick, I always try to point this reading out to them as one to think about what it is really saying.  It takes about “love” and “love” is certainly an important part of marriage but before they select it as their second reading, I just ask them to talk to each other and reflect on what it says about love to them.

Love can be a complicated thing.

Why?  Because we are imperfect beings.  In our imperfections, we don’t always do what we know we should.  When someone we love and who we think loves us does something that hurts us, it hurts all the more. 

Part of loving someone is not wanting to hurt them.  Rather, we should desire to be the ones who help them when they hurt.  Yet, again, we are not perfect.

What about God’s love?

How would you describe God’s love?

We tend to describe things in terms of our human experiences.  Our human experience of love is imperfect.  So, we might imagine God’s love in the same way.  We might think that it is possible for God to stop loving us.

We would be wrong to think that.

As God told Jeremiah, He knew us even before He formed us in the womb.  From the beginning of time, God already knew what we would do.  He knows what sins we commit.  It is because He loves us even when we sin that our Father sent Jesus to die for us on the Cross. 

How many times have I said that we see Jesus’ love for us when we look at him on the Cross?

God knows what adversity we will face.  Even before Jeremiah began his ministry, the Lord told him, “They will fight against you but not prevail over you for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.”

We like to think that having faith in Jesus means everything will be easy.  After all, Jesus himself says “my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”  The thing is, He doesn’t say we won’t have any problems, just that they are easier with him.

That’s why that Paul tells us that if we “do not have love,” we are “a resounding gong,” that without love we are “nothing.”  Love is what we are created for.

Love is what sustains us.  “It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  It is God’s love for us that never fails. 

Turning back to marriage, it is to be a sacrament of love.  Does that mean it will be perfect, that there will be no problems?  We would like to think so but the reality is that marriage can come with its challenges. 

Here I think of couples that I see that aren’t afraid to admit that, shall we say, “they don’t always see eye to eye.”  Yet, you will see them do good things for their spouse, not simply to avoid a fight but because they want their spouse to be happy.  There is love in that.

I also think of when I see a couple where one of the spouses is dealing with a health issue.  The sick spouse is in the hospital.  That means the healthy spouse doesn’t have to be with them every moment to take care of them.  They could go and do their own thing.  Of course, at times, they do need to tend to those other things that always need to be done.  But they find time to simply sit with their sick spouse in the hospital.  They want to be there for them.  They want them to get better.  They want them to be around for years to come.  There is love in that.

It isn’t always easy to love.  It requires patience.  It means being kind when we don’t want to.  It means letting go of our own interests to be there for the other.

When our love seems weak, we can turn to God as our “refuge” and our “hope” that He will “rescue” and “deliver” us.  With God, “love never fails.

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