Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Saturday 25 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
Aleteia logo
Church
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Did St. Paul’s letter on love fall on deaf ears like ours? Pope’s thoughts

A gust of wind lifts Pope Francis' skullcap at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican on May 15, 2024

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 05/15/24

"Probably they were all convinced they were good people" ... Pope Francis considers about the Corinthians, who heard "Love is patient, love is kind ..."

Perhaps the most famous words about charity in the Bible are those written by St. Paul to the Corinthians. Pope Francis, in reflecting on these words at the May 15 general audience, wondered if the Corinthians were like us: “Who knows, perhaps in the community of Corinth, no one thought they had committed a sin, and those harsh words of the Apostle sounded somewhat incomprehensible for them. Probably they were all convinced they were good people, and if questioned on love, they would have answered that love was certainly a very important value for them …”

Paul had been harsh, telling the Corinthians that the divisions they were allowing at the Eucharistic table was making them like pagans:

“Paul gives a stark judgement: ‘When you meet together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat’ (v. 20), you have another ritual, which is pagan, it is not the Lord’s supper,” the Pope recalled.

Paul’s reprimand follows his teaching on charity — “love is patient, love is kind …” –the same one that Pope Francis examined word by word in his 2016 teaching on the joy of love, Amoris Laetitia. Paul concludes with “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13).

Love on the lips

Francis reflected on the original audience for Paul’s teaching:

Paul addresses these words to a community that is anything but perfect in fraternal love: the Christians of Corinth were rather litigious, there were internal divisions, and there were those who claimed always to be right and did not listen to others, regarding them as inferior. Paul reminds them that knowledge puffs up, whereas charity builds up (cf. 1 Cor 8:1).

The Holy Father wondered if in the days of those Corinthians, like today, we “speak a lot about love” but without practicing it.

Who knows, perhaps in the community of Corinth, no one thought they had committed a sin, and those harsh words of the Apostle sounded somewhat incomprehensible for them. Probably they were all convinced they were good people, and if questioned on love, they would have answered that love was certainly a very important value for them, just like friendship or the family. In our days too, love is on the lips of many “influencers” and in the refrains of many songs. We speak a lot about love, but what is love?

Pope Francis invites the faithful to the love of the virtue of charity: “Not the love that rises, but the one that descends; not the one that takes, but the one that gives; not the one that appears, but the one that is hidden.”

Paul is concerned that in Corinth – as among us today too – there is confusion and that there is actually no trace of the theological virtue of love, the one that comes to us only from God. And if even in words everyone assures that they are good people, that they love their family and friends, in reality they know very little about the love of God.

Tags:
CharityPope FrancisScripture
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Aleteia-Pilgrimage-300×250-1.png
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.