Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19; Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 12:31–3,13:13; Luke 4:21-30)
Receiving God’s Love and Giving it to Others
“Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Addressing the fractious Corinthian church, Paul urged the believers to “strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31). He even told them how to get there: by practicing love. Not the overly romantic love that musicians sing about but divine love—the love Jesus poured out when he died on the cross. Paul wants us to learn how to operate out of God’s infinite love, not just our own limited version of it.
The sad truth, however, is that we are all fallible. We all fail to meet the standard of love presented in this reading. So how can we love in the way God is asking us to? By receiving it as a gift. Prophecy, tongues, miracles—all these spectacular gifts of the Spirit will fade. But not love. It is limitless. It never fails.
Just as Jesus taught his apostles the way of love, he wants to teach us as well. But we have to come to him if we want to be taught. As we take up a life of prayer, Scripture, and the sacraments, something happens. Often enough, it is a gradual process, and we may not even notice what is happening. But something prompts us to look back over our lives, and we begin to see the ways that God’s grace has made us more kind and generous. We can see how he has made us more alert to other people’s situations and needs.
All this happens because we are becoming like Jesus. We are receiving him in the Eucharist and soaking up his wisdom in the Scriptures. And the Holy Spirit is responding by shaping our hearts and minds according to Jesus’ own image and likeness.
So let God fill you with his perfect love at Mass today. There will be plenty of time for action in the week to come. For now, just sit still and receive. This, after all, is the greatest of all the gifts!
“Lord, I surrender my relationships to you. Come and fill me to overflowing so that your love can flow from me to everyone in my life.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, the Lord tells Jeremiah that even before he was born, he was known by God and had been called by God to serve him. God has also called each one of us to his service as well. He has also given us the spiritual gifts we need to serve him and build his Church. In exercising these gifts (the first reading uses prophecy as an example), God promises his strength and protection. He promises to be with all of us who respond to his call. What are the gifts you believe God has given you? How have you used them to serve him and others,? What steps can you take to use them even more in the future?
- In the responsorial psalm, we state that our hope, trust, and dependence are in God who is our strength. Can you share an example of how God gave you the opportunity and strength to share your gifts with someone?
- In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us to “strive eagerly” for spiritual gifts, but that no matter how important the individual gifts each of us has, unless we exercise love in their use we “are” and “gain” nothing. How open are you to “strive eagerly” for spiritual gifts? If not, why not?
- The well know definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 contains a list of elements that should resonate with each of us and cut to the heart of our weaknesses, whether we are quick-tempered, keep score of injuries received, etc. Take a close look at this list. How can you use it to pray for the grace to change in certain areas, and learn what St. Paul calls the “more excellent way” of love?
- In the Gospel, we see the reaction of people to hearing the word of God from someone close to them. The initial reaction to his “gracious words” was positive. When he went on to challenge them, the people reacted angrily to Jesus’ words? What is your response when someone close to you challenges your preconceptions either of yourself or of God? Is there room for improvement? In what way?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Just as Jesus taught his apostles the way of love, he wants to teach us as well. But we have to come to him if we want to be taught.” Why do you think our ability to love others in the same way the Lord has loved us is so tied to the depth of our own personal experience of his love? What steps can you take to open yourself more to the love of Christ and the “way of love”?
- Take some time now to pray for one another to know and experience Jesus’ love more deeply, so that you can give it to others.. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.