Earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way…. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not 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 all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
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.
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect 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. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.
O sing him a song that is new,
play loudly, with all your skill. (R./)
For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love. (R./)
They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth,
he sees all the children of men. (R./)
Jesus said, "To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep." For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, "He has a demon'; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children."
We are "members of God's household," says St. Paul, in a phrase that is rich in meaning, rather close to "we are all God's family." If the Church is an extended family it should not be rigidly ruled, for its members are all siblings in spirit, while each has his or her own personal gifts. Paul mentions many of these talents: prophecy, knowledge, faith that can move mountains, generosity to the poor.
Unfortunately, rivalry and pride and the desire for dominance could easily split the such a gifted church into sects. Though not wanting any true gift or charism to be suppressed, Paul considers some of the troublemakers to be like noisy gongs or clanging cymbals. They create divisions through arrogant self-seeking, whereas being the body of Christ, the church should be united and loving. Ultimately there are just three qualities that are vital for the life of a Christian: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. True leaders are not proud egotists, but people who serve with love. These are what the church needs.
The Gospel shows how Jesus himself was mocked by cold-eyed critics, always looking for things to blame. Because he so readily accepted invitations to dinner, they branded him as a glutton and a drunkard. It's a warning against any unjust, high-handed procedures in our society and above all in the church. To misjudge or unjustly censure another person is a wrong done to Christ himself.
One day Jesus noticed how some children refused to join in other children's games, and compared it the refusal of many adults to believe. If the children's funeral games were a reminder of the death of John the Baptist, their dancing games reflected the joy of his own message. Jesus was like the children who played the pipes and invited others to dance to their tune. He is piper who leads us in the dance of life.
The music of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is not a doleful dirge. It is joyful music about the favour of God towards all who are open to receive it. He invites us to dance to the rhythm of the Spirit. As his followers, we carry a song of hope in our hearts. Can we let the music of God echo in our lives and maybe in the lives of others too?