Tony Blair at Princess Diana`s funeral)
Thoughts of three great religious figures are put before us today - all were prophets.A prophet speaks for God.We heard from Jeremiah,Jesus and Paul the Apostle..
And all three were renowned fro speaking out for God with great courage...
The thing about St.Paul`s words is that you cannot imagine them being composed unless he had the example of the life and death of Jesus before his eyes.
Last week we heard about the unity of the body of Christ, a unity brought about by the gifts of the Spirit.But Paul had something special up his sleeve and we hear what that is this week.`I will show you a way that is better than any of them.`
You often hear this passage - ch.13 ,1 Cor.read at a wedding service
and its easy to see its relevance there.Its a beautiful reading and it has been called,
`Hymn to Love`.
But these words were not written to be admired but rather to be lived.
Let me explain!
St.Paul had spent the first 12 chapters of 1 Cor. dealing with practical problems in the Christian Community of Corinth in Greece.There was a lot of disunity and division within the group there -surprise,surprise...It happens whenever a few people get together whether in political or religious circles.
(There used to be an old joke in Ireland one time - you can laugh if you still think its funny -)When you have one Irishman you have a political party,when you`ve got two Irishmen you have a fight and when you have three Irishmen you have a High Mass.!
In Corinth there were all these human problems which Paul tackled.He particularly castigated a man who lived in an open sexually immoral state.
So the point is that Paul,taking a long hard look at the problems said - `This is how I want you to behave` and ` I want you to speak with love`,he said `I want you to be motivated by love.`
What then is love or agape.?
We heard the answer;`Love is patient and kind,not rude or selfish,not touchy.` And unlike the popular media stories of the present time, love does not take pleasure in other people`s sins, but instead it is ready to excuse someone`s conduct.
So here we have the recipe for and the key to happy relationships whether in marriage or in the wider community.Lover never ends..But Ch.13 does have a great ending like all great poems or speeches ( and I will end here also)
`In short there are three things that last,faith hope and love and the greatest of these is love`.