Skip to main content


Father Cantalamessa on Seeking and Giving Love

1/28/2007 - 7:00 AM PST

Advertisment

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, JAN. 28, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Unless you have charity...
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30

This Sunday's Gospel narrates the rejection Jesus meets at Nazareth, his hometown, the first time he returns after beginning his public ministry. This rejection elicits the famous remark, "No prophet is accepted in his own country."

We commented on Mark's account of this episode last year; we can therefore focus our attention on the second reading where we find a very important message. This is Paul's celebrated hymn to charity. Charity is the religious term for love. This is, then, a hymn to love, perhaps the most celebrated and sublime ever written.

When Christianity appeared on the world's stage, love had already employed various singers. The most illustrious was Plato who wrote an entire treatise on it. The common name for love at that time was "eros" (this is where we get "erotic" and "eroticism" from).

Christianity sensed that this passionate and desirous love was not adequate to express the novelty of the biblical concept. For this reason it avoided the term "eros" and substituted that of "agape," which could be translated as "spiritual love" or "charity" -- although the latter term has come to acquire a too restricted meaning: doing charity, works of charity.

The difference between "eros" and "agape" is this. Desirous or erotic love is exclusive; it is consummated between two persons; the interference of a third person would mean its destruction, its betrayal. Sometimes the birth of a child can throw this kind of love into a crisis.

The giving type of love, "agape," on the contrary embraces everyone, no one can be excluded, not even enemies. The classical formula of "eros" is pronounced by Violetta in Verdi's opera "La Traviata": "Love me, Alfredo. Love me as much as I love you."

The classical formula of "agape" is that of Jesus who says: "As I have loved you, love one another." This latter is a love that is meant to circulate, to expand.

Another difference is this. Erotic love, in the more typical form of "falling in love," does not last long, or it lasts only by changing its object, that is, by falling in love with different people successively. Of charity, however, St. Paul says that it "remains," indeed it is the only thing that remains in eternity, even after faith and hope have ceased.

But between these two loves -- that of seeking and that of giving -- there is not separation and contraposition, but rather development and growth.

"Eros" is the point of departure for us and "agape" is the point of arrival. Between them there is room for a whole education and growth in love. Let us take the most common case which is love between two persons.

In the love between a husband and wife "eros" prevails at the beginning, attraction, reciprocal desire, the conquering of the other, and so a certain egoism. If this love does not make an effort to enrich itself along the way with a new dimension, one of gratuity, of reciprocal tenderness, of a capacity to forget oneself for the other, and to project itself into children, we all know how it will end.

Paul's message is quite relevant today. The entertainment and advertising worlds seem bent on inculcating in young people that love is reducible to "eros" and that "eros" is reducible to sex. Life is presented as a continual idol in a world where everything is beautiful, young, and healthy; where there is no growing old, no sickness, and everyone can spend as much as they want.

But this is a colossal lie that generates unrealistic expectations, which, once they are not met, provoke frustration, rebellion against family and society, and often open the door to crime. The word of God makes it such that the critical sense in people is not altogether extinguished when this illusory vision of life is daily proposed to them.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org  CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Cantalamessa, Giving, Love, Family, Liturgy

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 14:14-19
Now in my vision I saw a white cloud and, sitting on it, one ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:10, 11-12, 13
Say among the nations, 'Yahweh is king.' The world is set firm, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:5-11
When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was ... Read More

Saint of the Day

November 25 Saint of the Day

St. Catherine of Alexandria
November 25: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day ... Read More