What The World Needs Now Is Love

love is...

4th Sunday Ordinary TIme

Deacon Tom Vert

Preached: January 30, 2022

“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of!”

This song was written back in the 1960’s in a time of turmoil, the Vietnam War, and society in upheaval.

It was a song that tried to bring a better perspective, one that said we don’t need more mountains or hills, or fields, but “Lord, if you want to know, what the world needs now is love”.

With all the world has going on right now, and the second reading today from Corinthians, it struck me that this is a message so appropriate for this moment.

We have:

  • Truckers protesting across the country about vaccination mandates
  • We have people vaccinated upset with people who are not
  • We have Europe on the brink of another war in the Ukraine with Russia
  • We have migrants trying desperately for a better life who are freezing on our own borders
  • We have more financial inequality than almost any time in recent history
  • And on social media, everyone is ranting about all the above and more

What do we truly need right now?  What is there too little of?

The second reading tells us a path forward.

It’s interesting that this letter from Paul to the Corinthians and was also written at a time of turmoil in the church in Corinth.

Every one of us has heard this reading probably 20 or more times at weddings including my own wedding 31 years ago.

And when we hear it, it is kind of nice and cute, warm, and fuzzy.  But as I was researching this homily for the weekend, I got a new perspective

I think it is the second most challenging reading in the New Testament right after the Beatitudes, and really caused me to look at my spiritual life more closely.

It starts off with “strive for the greater gifts” and I love this because the word strive is an action word and shows us that we are to actively strive to improve our faith life.

It goes on to say that “If I speak in the tongues or prophetic powers, or have all knowledge, and faith, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

St. Paul speaks to the motivation of the heart in our actions, and it is key that any outward show gains nothing, but inward love to another means everything!

Extraordinary gifts, grand abilities, skills, or actions are empty without love and can even be seen hypocritical if not authentic.  When love is missing, it can become vain, selfish, fruitless, and individualistic.

Love’s quest can never begin with “what’s in it for me” but always “what is best for you”.

St. Paul then gives us the list of 12 challenges:

Love is patient”, which focuses us on allowing another person to take the time they need; it’s not on my timeline.

“Love is kind”, which speaks to gentleness, mercy and compassion, putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes and trying to understand before we judge.

“Love is not envious or resentful”; life is not a competition, either at work or in our families where everyone can succeed.   We are not to be upset that others get something I didn’t, or won a award, received recognition, promotion, wage increase, or resent another’s success or skills.  Instead, we are to rejoice in another person’s achievements instead of wishing it was us. Just because another’s candle is brightened, doesn’t mean ours doesn’t shine also.

“Love is not boastful or arrogant”; in other words, if I have achieved more, I don’t show off, I don’t say look at me, but instead we are called to be humble and use the gifts God gives us for the community are the way forward.

“Love is not rude”; it doesn’t close its’ ears and shortchange the other person in conversation but listens and hears and acknowledges another.

“Love does not insist on its own way”; it is not focused on how I get what I want when I want it, but instead how can we work together to get the best result.

“Love is not irritable”; it is not grumpy, edgy, or impatient, but instead it is kind, gentle and forgiving.

“Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth.”  We are called to seek and bear witness to the truth using faith and reason and not to get caught up in conspiracy theories or the latest social media rants.

“Love bears all things”; I found these four words from St. Paul a true challenge as we are called to bear with worries, stresses, sickness, poverty, loneliness, for ourselves and those we support, without complaining.  That is not easy as we have our own limits with patience, and we get tired; but we are called to rely on God’s strength and not our own.

“Love believes all things”, by faith in God that his will be done, “Love hopes all things” as we hope for a better future, and end of war, and end to the pandemic, and “Love endures all things” with the power provided by the Holy Spirit.

Love never ends.”; As long as we are alive, the fruit of love is still there and can give us energy to push forward as we can always love when we are connected to God as He is the source of love.

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

These three are the heart of the Christian life – faith, hope and love – faith in what God has done, hope in what God will do, and love of God is to trust that his plan and timing are the right ones, and we accept them.

God’s love for us, becomes the driver of our love of others. We are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, soul and mind, and His love then enables us to love your neighbour as yourself.

The final thing St. Paul says, in the next two words of this letter which we didn’t read today: “pursue love!”

This is the message and thought for the week ahead; when you read the paper, listen, or watch the news, sing this key phrase to yourself and you will know how to react:

“What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of!”

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