Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Corinthians 12,31-13,13

Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am going to put before you the best way of all. Though I command languages both human and angelic -- if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains -- if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned -- if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever. Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known. As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Here we have one of the apostle Paul's most famous passages. To show what Gospel love means Paul uses the Greek term agape, which was the least used in comparison with the terms eros and philia. Christian love-the love lived and shown by Jesus and which brought him to the cross-was so uncommon that it needed a new term. Indeed it was a love which was humanly incomprehensible: an unconditional love, free and even unjustified because it continues to live - and it is the least we can say - beyond any reciprocity. Agape is the love of God poured into our hearts. It is a "charism," a gift which God gives freely. The apostle says that it is the highest charism, precisely because it is God himself. This is why love cannot be the fruit of our own doing. It should be welcomed, taken care of, nourished and made to grow. This is why it is presented as a "way" which one should follow. But above all it is a gift to be welcomed. If this gift is missing-that is, if a gratuitous love like the one Jesus lived is missing-it is useless, Paul says, to speak the language of angels. It is useless to prophesy. Even faith is useless, as well as giving away all our possessions. Gospel love is the substance of salvation, because it is God himself. And whoever welcomes this love is kind, benevolent, humble, patient, good and merciful. This list delineates the steps articulating the way of perfection. Every believer should follow them: it is the best way of all, and it is shown to all of us. Without love, nothing means anything: the gratuitous love of God is the source of every goodness and it is from now eternity.