LOVE vs. KNOWLEDGE


“…And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing… Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 2, 8-13)

Why am I “nothing” if I have “all faith” and “understand all mysteries” and “all knowledge” as St. Paul notes here? Because that is impossible. None of us can possibly know it “all.” We never possess “all faith” and “all knowledge,” regardless of how perfectly “Orthodox” we may seem to ourselves, as members of the “right” Church. St. Paul tells us flatly, “our knowledge is imperfect.” This is the great insight to which the great Apostle of the Gentiles came, when he ceased to “reason like a child”: He ceased to think he knew everything, and realized that he knew only “in part.”

So today let me accept the truth I am given to “see in a mirror dimly” with loving gratitude, rather than pretend to master it, or to “possess” it in some exclusive way. It is not knowledge, but its limitations that open me up to a connection with God. That is to say, where knowledge ends, faith, hope and love remain. “But the greatest of these is love.” Happy Valentine’s Day, my one-and-only zillions!

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