Finding the Love that Lives Within Us – Excerpt from my book – The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together
by Mark Votava
- To love in a place will liberate us all
This communal imagination to love in a place will liberate us all to become more human. This has been my own experience. I understand my own humanity better because of the embodied, relational, communal imagination that I am a part of in my neighborhood.
- If I do not have love living within me I have nothing
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away …
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love…” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13).
- Love is the story we are to enter into
I love this passage of Scripture because it is the major theme of all of the New Testament. Love is the story that we are to enter into. It is everything.
- Becoming an expression of 1 Corinthians 13
We are to inhabit our local context as the body of Christ living into this posture toward all of life. This is what will shape us relationally. I want to become an expression of 1 Corinthians 13 together with my friends in our neighborhood.
- When we lose sight of the central element of love
Thomas Merton states, “When we lose sight of the central element in Christian holiness, which is love, and we forget that the way to fulfill the Christian commandment to love is not something remote and esoteric, but is on the contrary something immediately before us, then the Christian life becomes complicated and very confusing. It loses the simplicity and the unity which Christ gave it in his gospel, and it becomes a labyrinth of unrelated precepts, counsels, ascetic principles, moral cases, and even of legal and ritual technicalities. These things become difficult to understand in proportion as they lose their connection with charity which unites them all and gives them all an orientation to Christ.”
- Without love everything we do amounts to nothing
Such things as tongues, prophesy, knowledge, giving my body to die in the flames, a faith that can move mountains, giving to the poor, and fathoming mysteries all amount to little without love. I would say that without love everything we do amounts to nothing.
- Love is essential for the social capital of our neighborhood
Boasting and pride are not a part of love. Being rude and self-seeking is not a part of love. Anger and bitterness is not a part of love. These things are unhealthy for the social capital of our neighborhood.
- Love is hospitable
Love is hospitable to patience and kindness. Love is hospitable to celebration and protection. Love is hospitable to trust and hope in others. Love is hospitable toward the strength of perseverance.
- Love is the greatest quality
Faith and hope always stem from love. And love is the greatest quality of our faith as the body of Christ together in the parish.
How can we find the love that lives within us and embody this love into the world?