1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Psalm 33:2-3, 4-5, 12 and 22
Jesus compares the people of his generation to two groups of children. The first group accuses the second of not celebrating; the second accuses the first of not mourning.
John the Baptist, who fasted and refrained from wine, is the one who sang the funeral dirge and called the people to confess their sins and repent. According to Jesus, some people responded negatively to John’s call and accused him of being possessed by a demon.
Jesus, on the other hand, is the bridegroom, who says that his disciples will not fast until he is taken away. He plays the flute and calls the people to dance. Some, like the Pharisees, respond negatively to Jesus’ call to enter the wedding feast of the king’s son and accuse him of being a glutton and drunkard.
Like John, Jesus does call the people to repentance. Jesus even tells the people to sell everything, to take up their Cross and follow him to Jerusalem. But he also teaches them that this is the way of love and the way that leads to the true joy of the wedding feast.
The generation that opposes both the call to repentance and the call to enter the wedding feast is an evil generation. They refuse to listen to John and Jesus, the children of wisdom. They turn away from wisdom and neither repent from sin nor enjoy God’s grace.
Those who repent and follow Jesus strive to love. Paul calls this the more excellent way. Above all things – the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy and the gift of understanding and knowledge, and the gift of faith – is love. Here, love means a wholly benevolent, disinterested love. “If the other kinds [of love] can be tainted with selfishness, this kind is loving just for the sake of loving, not seeking any reward or return of the love except in the measure it benefits the other. In the New Testament it is used primarily for God’s love for us, which, shown in Jesus’ self-gift on the cross is ‘poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us’ (Rom 5:5)” (G. Montague, First Corinthians, Baker Academic, 221).
Love suffers patiently and is merciful. As well, love is kind and desires good things for others. When we love, we imitate God who is kind and merciful. Love does not fail, for it remains for ever. Here, in this life, gifts like tongues and prophecy pass come and go, and our knowledge is only partial and fragmentary. In this life we live by faith and see things indistinctly as in a mirror. In the next life, we see God clearly, face to face. Faith gives way to vision, hope gives way to the joy and delight of eternal beatitude, and our love is brought to its fullness.