Ordinary 4th Sunday – ODE TO LOVE

Ordinary 4th Sunday

Jer. 1: 4-5, 17-19                      1Cor. 12: 31-13:13                    Lk. 4: 21-30



It is love that can make our life better and more rooted.


Primacy of Love:

  • Erich Fromm in The Art of Loving, writesLove is an active power in man: a power which breaks through the walls which separate man from his fellow men, which unites him with others; love makes him overcome the sense of isolation and separateness; yet it permits him to be himself to retain his In love, the paradox occurs, that two beings become one yet remain two.”
  • There is a story that Dame Julian of Norwich, a famous English mystic, once asked God directly why He had created the world. The answer came back to her in ecstatic whispers: “You want to know your Lord’s meaning in what I have done? Know it well, love was His meaning. Who reveals  it to you? Love! What did He reveal to you? Love. Why does He reveal it to you? for love.”

These two passages reveal to us how love is our primary nature and the very foundation of the world. It is only through love we can make sense out of this life and give meaning to our life. If we take love out of life, life has no meaning. If we add love to our life, it begins to have meaning and a sense of purpose. That is why St. Paul, in the first reading, speaks of love in such glowing terms and places love above everything else.

Characteristics of Love:

St. Paul, in his ode to love, first of all, says how without love even the so-called best things are nothing. Without love, talents, gifts and charisms are of no use and can serve only negative purpose. Then Paul proceeds to speak of various characteristics of love. These characteristics, he presents, in two categories, namely what true love does, and what it does not indulge in. True love is patient and kind; finds joy in truth; is always ready to make allowances; is ready to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. At the same time, it is not boastful or conceited; is never rude and never seeks its own advantage; does not take offence or store up grievances; does not rejoice at wrongdoings; never comes to an end.

The gospel goes one step further and informs us of another important characteristic of love, namely inclusiveness. It was the Jewish pride that made them think that they alone were closer to God and all the other races had been shunned away by Yahweh. So they considered the gentiles inferior and excluded them from their circle of relationship. It is the nature of pride to exclude. On the contrary, the nature of love is to include. Jesus, by referring to the widow of Zarephath and Naaman, indicated that God is neither alien to the gentiles and not the gentiles are alien to God. Jesus upheld that God, because of His very nature of love, is all-inclusive and all-embracing.

Rootedness: An Important Characteristic:

Another important good that love does is that it gives rootedness to a person. Human beings are very much like trees. A tree which has got deeper roots can withstand any storm, while a tree with shallow roots becomes a victim of even an ordinary gust of air. Similarly a person who is deeply rooted in love, especially in God’s love, has the capacity to withstand any storm of life. The readings today reveal to us that both Jeremiah and Jesus had experienced God’s love and it was this experience of God’s love that gave them strength to withstand all sorts of oppositions and even to thrive in the midst of challenges. We see God telling Jeremiah: “They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you to deliver you.”

Even though the fellow Jews at Nazareth were dragging Jesus to the brow of the hill to throw him off, Jesus was not the person who was perturbed by it. Since he had experienced God’s love “he passed straight through the crowd and walked away.” The message is that a person who is rooted in God’s love is not much carried away by external vagaries of life, instead will find God safely guiding him through.

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