Of all that we do and are, expressed most fully in our Catholic faith, it is that love reigns supreme.
If we have love, then we are to humankind who we are meant to be. If we do not have love, then no matter our actions, no matter our intent, the outcome will end up as clashing cymbals, the kind of noise that causes us to want to shelter our ears.
What is love? In this letter Paul tells us what it is, identifiable by its action in our lives. We can see love, in action.
But love is much more than this, for love is also a Who. God is Love, as Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully explained in his first encyclical. The God who loves us sent his Son to model love for us, as John explained millenia before in his letter (1 John 4). Jesus is love walking on earth.
Love is so much more than a feeling. The more we give without thought of self - just as we are called to surrender our whole selves to God - the more perfect a reflection of God we become. We become Love, on earth.
Action done in the service of love, therefore of God, is beautiful. It is the kind of living that bears fruit abundantly. We can actually see this love in the face of the bearer. It is why the Romans all the way back in those ancient days said of Christians, "See what they have? I do not know what it is, but I wish I had it, too!"
Tomorrow, make a decision to encounter Christ. Encounter him through your actions done out of an intense love of God. How do we see love? How do we know love?
Love is patient. Be patient. Allow the other the benefit of the doubt. Search your own heart for reasons before searching for reasons elsewhere. This is love.
There is no rudeness nor irritability in love. Love is kind. Thinking of others and putting others first, even if it does not seem rational, is love. In a relationship, both doing this together, to each other, is love.
Love does not boast, it is not jealous. Give of yourself consciously without thinking of being repaid. Relish the freedom of love without jealousy. This is free love – giving with no expectation of receiving. The moment will surely come when you are not recognized. When your heart falters and you feel the desire to lash out in words, stop and think a moment. Remember the free gift you gave, and remember that you gave it out of love for God expressed in love of others, and the moment will pass. With time and through trial the feeling of being shortchanged will pass, too. The knowledge of the love that surpasses all understanding fills the heart with such a peace that there is no need for anything else, and to help a fellow man becomes as natural as breathing.
Love endures all, through the good and the bad.
Love never ends.