Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Still More Excellent Way

Brooklyn Museum: The Brow of the Hill near Nazareth (L'escarpement de Nazareth)

The painting above is "L'escarpement de Nazareth" or "The Brow of the Hill near Nazareth" by James Tissot.

From the collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, it depicts part of the Gospel read at Mass today -- the account from the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus is driven out of Nazareth after saying, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place."

All of the readings at Mass today were meaningful. The first reading contained the well-known passage from Jeremiah:

"The word of the LORD came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."

The second reading was the passage from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians that is often proclaimed at weddings. Despite hearing it so frequently, the words never fail to hit home:

Brothers and sisters:

Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

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.

If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Mike posted a reflection on this passage at Googling God.

A Concord Pastor and Deacon Greg also have fine homilies on the readings for this Sunday.

Flashback: 2007

1 comment:

Fran said...

Really good stuff Paul - as always. I have not been able to write about the Sunday Scriptures as much lately - time and ennui seem to be challenging me.