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January 30, 2022: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Pastor’s Corner

A few years ago, as I was perusing the newspaper (no doubt searching for the elusive Sporting Green), I came upon a common dating scenario in the Advice Column section of the daily.  A young lady had written in for some common-sense wisdom concerning her relationship.  She disclosed that she had been dating a young man for several years and their relationship had begun to wane.  At first, their bond was a whirlwind of romance: “all chocolates and roses.” He was affectionate and attentive.  She felt like she was the most important person in his life. She was in love. No doubt, a proposal and ring was in the offing. But a few years had gone by and, not only was there no proposal, but the sparks of those first heady dating days had lost their sizzle. He was not quite as attentive and considerate.  For example, he seemed to enjoy hanging out more with his buddies than with her now. She concluding by writing: “I don’t know if I am in love with him. He’s just not meeting my needs anymore. What should I do?” The advice given in response was, if colorful, mostly unremarkable.  As I recall, the columnist employed a quaint fishing analogy and said something along the lines of: “there’s lots of fish in the sea” perhaps it’s time to “cut bait and head into different waters.” Yet, what was noteworthy was, not so much the advice given, but the framing of the question itself. The young woman’s implicit connection with love in terms of needs was quite striking: “I don’t know if I am in love with him. He’s just not meeting my needs anymore.” I thought to myself, if this person expects love to be the fruit of having a relationship with someone who could meet all of her needs, she’s in for a lifetime of disappointment.  We are made for love. Our need for love is unquenchable.  There is no one who could possibly satisfy our infinite capacity for love.  We can’t even meet our own needs. In an age where love is assumed to be the fruit of discovering someone or something to fill our lives, it is little wonder that real, fruitful love is elusive.    

         In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul weaves an ode to love with exquisite beauty.  Even for those not particularly conversant with the Bible, St. Paul’s famous description of love rings the sound of the familiar: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous. It is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” Amid the winsome poetry is the bracing reality of love.  Love does not seek its own interests, so love is not the discovery of someone who meets your needs.  Conversely, love is the discovery of someone for whom you can meet their needs. Love is born when you exercise patience, generosity, gratitude and forgiveness for another. Love is not the feeling of receiving goodness, but the choice of giving goodness beyond your own particular desires or preferences. Love is willing the good of another. Perhaps in an age which often confuses feelings with choice, emotions with reality, it is refreshing to once again be reminded of the power of love. God loves us. He created us for love. The way we receive love is by sharing it. As we hear this familiar reading this weekend, let us hear again as for the first time and choose love!

~ Fr. Michael     

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