4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (2022): 1 Cor 12:13-13:13; Lk 4:21-30

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C (2022): 1 Cor 12:13-13:13; Lk 4:21-30

·  While there is a wide variety of readings that can be chosen for a Catholic wedding, 9 out of 10 couples will select today’s reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians as their Second Reading. It remains St. Paul’s finest ode to love and all the qualities which we desire for love to embody: That it is kind, patient, not envious, boastful, rude or arrogant, that it yields for others benefit, that it does not bear grudges or lasting resentments, that it longs for the truth and does not seek to injury others, that it perseveres in adversity and best of all, that it never ends.

·  Undoubtedly this is the hope of every newly wedded couple as they stand before the altar of God and exchange their wedding vows, that the love they have for each other will be the best possible love!

·  I try to affirm them that they are capable of having this love in their marriage and it is evident that such unconditional love is already present.

·  But I also offer a caution that while this love can exist in a marriage till death do them part, where someone can begin to go astray is that we rely only on ourselves or one’s spouse or some other finite thing to be the source of this perfect love and none of us can be this infinite source as we are all wounded by the effects of sin and so fall short of unconditional love’s lofty calling!

·  Thus we need to find the source of perfect love and continually draw from that source, that source being the Most Holy Trinity for as St. John taught God is love itself.

·  When we draw our love from the infinite source of love who is God, then we do not fall into the error of thinking human effort alone is sufficient to supply perfect love. It is one of the most humbling aspects of love to admit we do not love as we should but know that we can love better through God’s grace.

·  When St. Paul composed these musings on the power of love, he was doing so to a Corinthian church community that was deeply divided, with some thinking themselves superior to others because of special spiritual gifts they posed like the gift of prophecy or speaking in angelic languages when they prayed.

·  This led to a spiritual pride that caused many in their community to think poorly of those who did not possess these gifts and as such St. Paul needed to correct them in reminding them that as special as these gifts were, what is most essential in proclaiming the Word of God and building up the Body of Christ was the love that the community shared for one another.

·  Likewise, St. Paul will challenge every believer and faith community to also reflect on whether or not we are building up each other in love that comes from God or if we are beginning to let a spiritual pride creep in that makes us judge others and inhibit that perfect love from being known in the world.

·  The Church has long benefited from the witness of those men and women of faith who made the scriptures alive in their lives so that we might imitate their example. Who might we say is someone who really did grow in their capacity to love because they continually went to God as love’s source and inspiration?

·  One such saint is St. Joseph, whom the people of Nazareth refer to when they spoke of Jesus as “Joseph’s Son”.

·  Though we know little of his life and not a single word he spoke, his actions showed a man on fire with the love of God and who allowed that love to guide his actions and relationships.

·  When he took Mary as his wife, it was through love that he overcame whatever apprehensions he might have had to wed the one who carried within her womb the only begotten Son of God. That love he had for Mary grew daily, knowing that his love for her would in part not be like that of most husbands since he was to honour her perpetual virginity before, during and after the birth of Jesus as part of God’s plan of salvation. His love for her was seen in the way he would lay down his life for his beloved, keeping her safe when danger arose and joining her in continually contemplating the great gift they had be entrusted with, to be the parents of the Son of God and offer everything they could as they watched him grow in the wisdom and favour of men.

·  St. Joseph’s love was seen in his daily witness of prayer, hard work to support his family and others, and generosity to care for his family and for this small community of Nazareth in whatever way he could.

·  As a man of dreams, he showed that his inspiration to love and act did not simply arise from what he thought best to do, but to be open to the voice of God and act promptly and unselfishly when he saw the path of love, accompanied with suffering, he was meant to take.

·  Might we then turn to St. Joseph in those aspects of our lives where we feel our love is not embodying all those incredible qualities that St. Paul taught the Corinthians amount to the most perfect love. Each of us is capable of this love if we but ask God to help us grow and draw from Him that ability to know the love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, the love that truly never ends.