Thursday, Second Week of Advent
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal... Love is patient, love is kind.”
--1 Corinthians 13: 1, 4
Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians to correct what he perceived as excessively divergent views within the Corinthian church. If the epistle was intended to represent or promulgate the unity of the Christian faith, such efforts have failed in a contemporary Christian community full of sects and socio-political schisms. I must then question how we might, per Paul’s advice, “all speak the same thing”. Must we all robotically mimic beliefs and sentiments, even if they are not pure and forged in the soul?
The previous question inadvertently leads me to the topic of love, and by extension to the subject of Christmas. Try to imagine that you are passionately in love, if you are not already. The identity of your living object of affection is immaterial; just pick someone if necessary. Now imagine that your lover and you are arguing, let’s say, about the placement of Christmas ornaments on an indoor pine tree. In my case, I would prefer Looney Tunes ornaments, while she would prefer posh glass bulbs. In the context of the 22,000 children who die each day from poverty, the placement of five-inch pieces of junk should not be an issue that makes love impatient and unkind, and that makes lovers not “speak the same thing”. Paul wanted his followers to read the same orthodox gospel, and it would be spiritually healing during this Advent season for students to love in any fashion by “reading the same gospel” of faith, humanity, and sacrifice for others in our daily actions. Perhaps then we might find the peace necessary to do something about those 22,000 children, not robotically but rather lovingly.
So why do I pontificate on romantic love on the eve of the most important Christian celebration? I use passion only as an arresting image; the principle of love remains the same, regardless of its transient subjects or objects. I will share a quaint story in closing to illustrate my central point. I have a friend and spiritual mentor named Saimel Perdomo who is a lovely priest from the Cuban hinterlands. He is so lovely, in fact, that he visited my apartment in New York City to practice Italian with me on a freezing day in late December. At the time, my Italian was rusty. But Saimel, who understood my desire to communicate with him in a language that he had mastered, spoke more slowly and simply in order to lovingly embrace than criticize me. I felt as if his love had transformed me into an idiom-wielding, gesture-laden Italian in a matter of minutes.
During this season of materialistic altruism, I ask you to think about who needs love in your life. Perhaps, while we are not all saying the same things, nor even using even the same voice, through Christ we can someday find harmony in our speech through love that Paul would admire. Love is engraved on our souls; it is our rightful job to “speak the same thing”.
--Jon Piskor ‘13