If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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 do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Cor 13: 1-3)

What a divinely disconcerting passage this is. I “gain” nothing, says St. Paul, when I don’t have love, even if I’m doing and saying all the “right” things; even if I “understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,” as in, the Orthodox faith. My words and actions fail to be constructive for myself and others, but rather fall flat, if what I’m saying and doing is not seasoned with “love,” which is a God-like and God-inspired will of another’s good. Because people, including me, do not listen to, i.e., we do not “obey,” those who do not love us, and whom we do not love. So, “obedience” (from “ob+audire,” maning “to listen in”) doesn’t “work” without love.

But how can I come to “have love” in certain difficult situations, say, when another person or other people have acted uncharitably (either toward me or someone else)? The fact is, I can’t muster up “love” from inside myself. But I can open my heart to the one Source of Love, God, and let Him share with me what He wants to share with all of us, His divine capacity for love. I know this is “easier said than done,” but so are most things. So let me try God today, and let Him into a love-less picture, if that’s what I’m confronted with today. Thy kingdom come, I say to God today, in heartfelt prayer, turning away from pointless, loveless battles that are a mere “noisy gong” in His ears.

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