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The Wedding Reading That Isn’t

October 9th, 2012by Fr. Dave Endres

One of the aspects of the priesthood that I enjoy most is wedding preparation. Not all preparations are alike and certainly couples seeking to be married in the Church today are all over the board in terms of their religious education and practice of the faith. But something that unites many of them is the Scripture readings they choose for their wedding.  

Of all the potential readings, the one chosen most often for the New Testament reading is from St. Paul to Corinthians (1 Cor 12:31–13:8). You know the one . . . “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude . . .” While we don’t try to dissuade, most priests secretly groan when this reading is chosen. Not because it isn’t God’s Word, not because it’s not a great choice, but because it is chosen so often, preached on so often in that single context.

For those of us who aren’t married – single, celibate, divorced, or widowed –  it is easy to believe perhaps that we can’t profit from this reading. But if you look closely at it you will find that there is no mention of marriage, nothing about bride and groom, nothing even about man and woman.

But the reading is about love – but not just married love, not just a conjugal relationship, but love as a virtue – one shared between family members, friends, maybe even enemies, and certainly between us and God.

For nowhere does it say that love is demanded only of spouses, or parents toward children, and vice versa – so each of us can rightly make claim to the beauty and challenge of this reading.

For when we hear “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury. . .”  When we hear this we can probably think of a moment or two just within the last week when we didn’t live out their virtue of love in this way – when we were impatient, rude, jealous, quick-tempered or pompous. And if we can’t think of a time, I am sure someone who knows us well can help us to remember.

Above all, St. Paul calls us (whether we are single or married) to examine ourselves and see just how well we are loving the Lord and the people he has placed in our lives – an important message any time, not just at weddings. 

Fr. Dave Endres

Fr. David J. Endres is assistant professor of church history and historical theology at Mount St. Marys Seminary/Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati.