President of the World Methodist Council
1) The most noble and excellent way.
As Christians, we cannot fathom the concept of love. We recognize that, although intensely present in the Old Testament, its occurrence in the agape form is expressed about 156 times in the New Testament, and throughout most of the writings of the Apostle Paul. The highest incidence, eight times, is the famous hymn to love, located in 1 Corinthians 13.
There are earlier connections with chapter 12, which speaks of the gifts of love. It ends with the words,“... but eagerly desire the greater gifts...” (I Cor 12:31).
This verse also begins with: “... and now I will show you the most excellent way .... “ (I Cor 12:31).
For Paul, and for us, Love is always the most excellent Way. Following Paul's thought, we know that love comes to us through the knowledge of the greatness of God's love to us in Christ, as he himself defined in Romans:
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
Thus, the excellence of love is that it is a divine feeling, and for us as Christians, a way of defining God: "God is love." (I John 4.8).
According to Paul´s teachings, love is:
a) Crucially necessary to human life. Love transforms human acts in divine gifts. These gifts are the most amazing acts, and without love, are merely the works of man.
b) Love has features that transcend our human nature: as it is patient, kind, without vanity, fair, truthful, long suffering, believes in all things, hope and it is supportive to those who suffer.
c) The love that comes from God never fails. According to Paul, everything ends in life, but love endures forever.
Faith, hope and love are divine virtues, but Paul says, love is the greatest.
Knowing and understanding this truth, we must recognize that love is what the world needs most. In this violent and hateful world, what it is needed most is a great pouring out of love. Only love forgives and ends the feelings of revenge.
2) Ecumenism and love.
Imagine what great unhappiness is within a home where the members of the same family do not speak to each other. They do not practice love or compassion for one another, never forgiving, and finally giving pain and suffering to each other. That’s what we often see in our home, we call planet earth, our “oikomene.”
Therefore, to love is a way of preserving a healthy living environment, since nothing about it pollutes, like war and violence. Love creates a healthy climate for nature, everything blooms out of patience, producing flower and fruit. When all is blooming, it is easier to build a world where there is plenty of health and peace for all. Yes, love is inclusive -- it forms bonds of friendship and compassion, and it generates interest in the fate and health of all people.
Thus, it is found that there is no future for humanity outside of ecumenism, as it is moved by love, creates understanding, tolerance and friendship.
Yes, being ecumenical is being genuine and loving to all those, same or different, inhabiting the same house.
If we want peace, we must promote love, forgiveness, reconciliation, ecumenism.
Bishop Paulo Lockmann