Rabbi Sha’ul of Tarsus, perfectly pens this sublime description, unsurpassed in its beauty and attention to detail, proving that love is far more than an emotion; love is something to be worked out in relationship. It challenges our post-modern, me-first generation. It calls us to consider others, to “love our neighbour” whoever they may be. Yochanan writing in the 1st century CE declared that “God is Love.”
|And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I
surrender my body to be burned but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love bears all things; it always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.Love never ends. Where there are prophecies, they will pass away; where there are gifts of speaking in different languages, those gifts will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, what is in part will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known by God. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The whole reason for our being is that we, though so undeserving, should experience this overflow of divine loving-kindness for ourselves, and pass it on to the world
in which we live. Notice, this love is not simply a warm and fluffy emotion, but a selfless concern for the interests of others. Such a love is one that truly makes the world go round.
Does this passage reflect your own character? Can you put your own name in there, and honestly say “I am patient, I am kind” and so on? Although each of us carries attributes of the Divine image, without God’s help, we will never truly change.
The supreme example of self-giving love is summed up in these words of Yochanan: "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Read the passage for yourself. You can find it in the Bible, in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.