Lenten Reflections on Love – Week VI
In previous weeks we reflected on the different descriptors that Paul uses to describe love, what it is –patient, kind, etc., and what it is not –irritable or resentful, rejoicing at wrongs, etc. In this last series of statements, Paul swings into action using powerful words to describe what love does, how it acts. He emphasizes that love operates this way all the time by the repetitive use of “all things”.
To get some insight in how to interpret these different ways that love acts, we turn to Pope Francis in his apostolic letter, The Joy of Love. He notes that a love that bears all things is more than simply putting up with what one does not like. The verb “bears” can mean holding one’s peace. It implies limiting judgment and checking the impulse to condemn the other.
In looking at love that believes all things, Francis suggests that “belief” is not to be taken in its strict theological meaning, but more in a sense of what we mean by “trust”. This trust enables a relationship to be free. It means we do not have to control the other person, to follow their every step lest they escape our grip.
According to Francis, love that hopes all things is a love that does not despair of the future. It speaks of the hope of one who knows that others can change, mature and radiate unexpected beauty and untold potential.
Love that endures all things is a love that faces every trial with a positive attitude. It stands firm in hostile surroundings. Francis explains that this “endurance” involves not only the ability to tolerate certain aggravations, but something greater: a constant readiness to confront any challenge. It is a love that never gives up, even in the darkest hour.
In the coming week, as we prepare to walk with Christ on the road to Calvary, can we embrace these active forms of love through an interaction or two with a loved one or even someone not so loved? Our approach to them could embody an active connection in which we demonstrate some of the four ways that Paul and Francis suggest how love acts: not judging or possessing, trusting, hoping for change where needed, and enduring—never giving up.
-Written by parishioner Roger Sullivan
Parts of this reflection were excerpted from Amoris Laetitia, (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis, April 2016, Chapter 4: 111-119
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