Friday 9th February 2024
Spending Lent with the Corinthians
Over the last few days, I have been sharing some reflections on the relationship between love and spiritual growth. God himself is love, and when we grow in love, we grow closer to God. In the words of St Paul, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16, verse 14). But we also know that it can be hard for us to place love at the centre of our relationships with others; it can also be hard to place love at the centre of our relationship with God, or at the centre of our relationships with ourselves. We need to pray to God for the strength and courage to allow God’s love into our lives. And, ultimately, this is what the season of Lent is all about. It is a time when we allow God’s love to operate in our lives in a deeper and richer way.
And we need to allow God time to do His work in the way He wishes and according to the timescale He considers best. So Lent is not only a time for love: it is also a time for patience. We have so many opportunities to exercise patience in our lives. We can be patient with people who irritate us. We can be patient with God, when we are waiting for a specific prayer to be answered or a situation to be resolved. And we can be patient with ourselves, when we get frustrated over the slowness of our progress in the spiritual life.
There is a very close relationship between patience and love, and St Paul was well aware of this. So let me finish with the following passage – the words are familiar, but as relevant today as they were when Paul first wrote them to the Corinthians back in the 1st Century AD: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13 vv.4-7).
May this Lent be a source of blessing for us all – a time when we give ourselves the opportunity once again to re-discover the depth and joy of God’s transforming love. And in the words of St Paul himself: may all that we do be done in love!