Let Love Be Intense (1 Pet. 4:7-13)
- Reading I: 1 Peter 4:7-13
- Resp. Psalm: Ps. 96
- Gospel Reading: Mark 11:11-26
"The end is near" (4:7) writes Peter and it is already being experienced by the community of faith in their places of exile (1:1) like a trial by fire (4:12). He exhorts the faithful to rejoice "to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ" (4:13). In view of "the end", he admonishes the faithful to prayer and to love.
The author of 1 Peter uses the noun and verb for love a total six times, twice for the noun (4:8; 5:15) and four times for the verb (1:8.22;2:17;4:8).
In 1:8, he recognizes the love that the faithful have towards the Lord whom they have not seen. The macharism of John 20:29 thus applies to them. In 1:22 he tells them to "love one another sincerely from the heart". He however makes it clear that love must result from a process whereby the faithful discipline their desires in "the obedience of truth" in view of "a love of the brotherhood that is not simulated". What Benedict XVI wrote in Deus caritas est about the need for love to be purified in order that one can love as the Lord loves is relevant here. We can also point out what the Pope writes about "love in truth"
Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity. That light is both the light of reason and the light of faith, through which the intellect attains to the natural and supernatural truth of charity: it grasps its meaning as gift, acceptance, and communion. Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite. Truth frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism that deprives it of relational and social content, and of a fideism that deprives it of human and universal breathing-space. In the truth, charity reflects the personal yet public dimension of faith in the God of the Bible, who is both Agápe and Lógos: Charity and Truth, Love and Word. (Caritas in Veritate, 3)
It is in this context that in 2:17 he admonishes the faithful to love the brotherhood (of believers, NIV) as people who have learned how to use their freedom not as a pretense for evil but as "servants of God" (2:16).
In 4:8, the author explains that they should love the brothers because "love covers a multitude of sins". He follows this with examples of how such a love can be concretely expressed: in hospitality (4:9), in the ministry of word and other services for the community (4:11). In this latter the faithful are like administrators who put at the service of the community the gifts received from God (4:10). Finally in 5:14, instead of saying "kiss peace", he says "kiss of love."
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