But love builds up

Hearing the first reading during this morning’s ecumenical Eucharist service, I was struck by the simplicity and the poignancy of the opening lines,
“Brothers and sisters:
Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up.”
This passage from the first letter to the Corinthians resonated with me in a way that, quite frankly, writings attributed to Paul rarely do. As the preacher broke open the word, I continued to reflect on the ways in which I have been guilty of the kind of pride we heard described in the reading. It’s a humbling thing, to hear something that gets to the heart of the matter so succinctly, pushing you face-to-face with parts of yourself that you would rather not see.

And this simple statement helped me reflect on the times when we do this to one another in community–when we succumb to arrogance, when we choose not to seek out the kernel of truth in the heart of those we define as “other,” when we allow ourselves to get lost in our own conceit. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what might come of dialogue between pro-change and new apologist young adult Catholics, but this passage made me realize that we may not even be in a space where these groups are ready to talk with one another. The assumptions folks have about those on the other end of the spectrum need to be broken down first.

So I look to the wisdom attributed to Paul for a starting point. Perhaps we are called to begin with love, to disarm our hearts in favor of an active and responsive and responsible love. In many ways, it can be the most difficult thing, but it is the thing to which we all are called. And fortunately, it has the final word in this story.

In peace and hope,



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