Grace to you!
Today, I focus on love as the greatest of all gifts.
From time to time, events happen that reveal the beauty of human life transformed by God's grace. Now and then, we have living testimonies of sacrifices worth sharing. Look around you and notice they are everywhere. Here, I share one notable instance. It was an example of a sacrificial love that occurred on September 16, 2019, in the eastern part of Nigeria.
Fr. Charles Chukwukelue Ebele, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Onitsha, drowned in the River Niger. The River Niger is the major river in West Africa, covering about 2600 miles running through the Guinea highlands to the borders of Mali and Niger Republic across the Gulf of Guinea into the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 3rd largest river in Africa.
Sometimes, the river can be turbulent as to pose a danger. Unfortunately, the river became so stormy that the boat in which Fr. Ebele was, began to capsize. The priest noticed that another person in the boat might not have a chance of surviving if the boat sank. He undid his life vest and gave it to him.
The boat finally capsized. The priest couldn't make it before the coast guards arrived. He gave his life for another. He died for sacrificial love. Fr. Ebele is the most recent example of heroic love comparable to Saint Maximilian Kolbe's. He is a real case of the Titanic moving story.
Stories of love touch us in the most profound ways. In those stories, we connect at a deeper level, to the best of human aspirations. Such was the most moving reality of God's love. We are moved to read how God so loved us to the point of the Son giving his life for us (Jn 3:16).
It is the purest love that lets oneself be at the services of the common good and others' needs. Life for others is a true testament of pure love. Such is the greatest.
Saint Paul writes to the Corinthian Church and us about the nature, necessity, and role of the Church's spiritual gifts (I Cor 12).
Next, he speaks of the greatest of these gifts, namely love (1 Cor 13:13). Of course, we know that love is one of the most misunderstood words today—from mere emotional or sensual connection to friendship or family ties, etc., an issue I will not discuss here.
It is sufficient to list the following pointers to true love: It is that which springs from God because "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8). It unites and binds us together as children of God. It makes us live not for ourselves alone but also for others. It is living so that we can see in our most inner selves my neighbor as God's image and relate to that neighbor based on God's love. Et cetera.
Saint Paul gives us at least thirteen criteria to measure the quality of our love. He writes: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7).
Hence, to measure the extent of my love, these could serve as a prayerful meditation and question for me: To what extent am I patient with others, especially the ones that drive me crazy? To what extent do I show kindness to those who, in my opinion, do not deserve it? Am I bitterly jealous of others, their gifts, and accomplishments? Am I boastful of the gifts or blessings I have? Etc.
Perhaps a prayerful reflection on 1 Cor 13:1-13 this week could help us think more deeply about the quality of our love.
May the Lord give us the grace to love as we are loved in God. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Week 24, Ordinary Time: 1 Cor 12:31-13:13; Lk 7:31-35]
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Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.