The section of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (12:31 – 13:13) is used very frequently in weddings and funerals and any events whose purpose is to motivate people to love or good works. Many of us can quote all or most of the attributes of love mentioned there. We listen to it and especially at weddings have a warm feeling inside as we witness the couple – hopefully very much “in love” – officially starting their life together. There is definitely much to ponder in this text which often goes far beyond “good feelings” as our lives proceed and we mature in and through the lessons and challenges that come our way.
For me the most important lines are these: “[Love] rejoices with the truth. It bears all things…endures all things. Love never fails.” It is on these tenets of love that I think the whole enterprise of loving must be built if it is to hold together. It says to me that love is not simply a feeling but a way of being, nourished by practice in living honestly and wisely, awake to the truth of situations that sometimes necessitate stripping off layers of emotion, desire, fear and/or wishful thinking. Being able to stand before a mirror and before God knowing truth and following it to the best of our ability is the reason that love never fails. And to the mature person, that is enough to know.