Why is love considered the greatest virtue?
Updated: Nov 21
By Msgr Peter Zhang
“Faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Why is love considered the greatest virtue?
Love Remains for Ever
Our heart pursues things which last, pointing towards eternity. Amongst the three theological virtues -- faith, hope and love -- only love remains for ever. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). When our earthly journey comes to an end, we will be in the direct presence of God. Faith is no longer necessary. Hope is our certain trust in God's promises and our desire for eternal life with Him. In heaven, those promises are fulfilled. We will be in the fullness of God's presence.
Only love remains when we go to heaven. Love comes from God. In fact, God is love. In the time to come, there is only God who is love that accompanies us in a blessed state known as paradise. Thus, love is considered the greatest virtue and the fulfilment of both faith and hope.
Love Seeks Other’s Well-being
Love can be portrayed in different ways. For example, there are two kinds of fish lovers. One can demonstrate his love for fish by cooking and savouring it. The other can express his love by rearing them in a beautiful pond, feeding them and admiring their beauty.
The love of the first person concentrates on self-centred desires rather than seeking the good of others. When someone says, “I love your beautiful looks”, “I love your humour”, there might be a subtle trace of coveting.
The love of the second person is genuine concern for the well-being of the other party. Love requires sacrifice. Jesus demonstrated to the world the authentic love on the cross. Opening his arms, he is inviting us, “This is my body, broken for you. Take it and eat it. So that you may have life to the full.”
Constitution of Love
There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is hoped that these art-pieces will help people meditate on the theme of love and inspire each and every one to be loving!
I would like to conclude this message with St Paul's Constitution of Love:
“Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)