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  • Joanna Tan

Theme Reflection

by Joanna Tan

“The greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

Behind this oft-quoted verse are the other two theological virtues faith and hope – both precious and critical in themselves for our pilgrim journey on earth. Why does Saint Paul declare confidently that love is the greatest?

"Love" is the last thing on our minds when we feel belittled, rejected, or simply cut off. Hurt, anger, even revenge are instincts that readily rise to the surface, and indeed the temptation to act on them in that very moment is great. Thus in 1 Cor 13, we are challenged to put away our "childish ways" because now we "know only in part”.

What is this love I am asked to grow into? If I apply what I practice as a therapist, to heal, I must firstly treat myself kindly - not judge but lovingly sooth my wounded parts and understand that my defensive parts are simply my protective instincts. So difficult perhaps even impossible to do when you think you alone. But we are not.

When we turn to the God of this love described in 1 Cor 13, we meet the One who loves us unconditionally and knows us fully. He knows our humanity. He even partook in it – out of love. We are not alone. Every breath breathed in this truth is like the coming of rain on a dry parched land. The ground will be fertile again, the wounds will heal.

May we choose to turn to God who is Love itself, and may we allow Him to work deeply in us, so that we will begin to heal ourselves, others and the world around us.

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