Love is a way of life!
I start this month’s column by quoting Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:4–7), using the NIV translation: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” I like this translation because it speaks to a way of life, of love, that we all can understand and, perhaps, easily get into and make our very own! You’ve probably seen this biblical quote on quite a few Valentine’s Day cards, maybe even one that you’ve given to your loved one. Thus, I know that this quote is a popular one and helps us to understand the importance of love in our lives.
Paul, the writer of this letter, shared his belief that individuals are inspired by the Holy Spirit. He often, in the churches and communities addressed, understood that individuals had a hard time expressing what was revealed to them; they could not find the words that could clearly express what they felt and believed. For us, isn’t “expressing love,” at least with words, hard to express? I know that more often than not, I also have a problem with expressing my love with actions! So, here comes Paul with his now famous and much-loved verses defining, probably for all time, what love is. In these verses, I believe Paul wants us to, calm down, perhaps even slow down, be clear, take a deep breath and have a lasting and enduring understanding of the importance of love in our lives.
Think about these things: Why would love need to be patient, especially when patience takes us out of ourselves and connects us to others? Kindness, treating others as you would want to be treated, needs to be expressed through being “calm, cool and collected.” Having no envy and not being boastful means to be humble. Doesn’t humility lead to not being proud, and putting yourself above others? Didn’t our grandparents, certainly our parents tell us to be honorable, to make our relationships mutually acceptable and satisfying? To think of others first, is certainly not self-seeking. What do you do if you’re feeling “selfish”? Many things, especially with our current political climate, and government policy issues can easily anger us. Yet, Paul clearly states that love is “not easily angered.” Have you “turned the other cheek” and not kept a “record of wrongs?” I know revenge to be a way of life for those who do. Do you understand truth to be the antidote to evil? In more ways than one, truth does “set one free!” Can we learn to allow the truth to overcome all that is false, not good and that can, if allowed to run amok, call you?
The ending of Paul’s definition of love, speaks to our human need to be protected and trusted and to have hope and to persevere, out of love, in all that we do. I know that one can never have the last say about what love means. However, Kababayan, let’s believe in it, these things revealed to us, yes, in and by the Holy Spirit, and act accordingly, out of our need to be human and to be human in relationship with other humans. One more thing, buying that Valentine’s Day card or gift has always for me been about understanding and putting into practice what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4–7. I wish you love, in all its ways, now and forever!
Have an idea or a comment or even a question, contact me at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org So, until next time, take care!
John A. Hau’oli Tomoso† is a Social Worker and Episcopal Priest. He is a Priest Associate at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku and an on-call Chaplain at Maui Memorial Medical Center. Tomoso was graduated from St. Anthony Jr./Sr. High School, the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota (Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology) and Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (Masters of Social Work). In 2008, he retired from the civil service as the Maui County Executive on Aging. Tomoso is currently the Executive Director of the non-profit Tri-Isle Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. His wife Susan is a 7th grade Language Arts Teacher at Maui Waena Intermediate School.