1 Corinthians 13:13
The Greatest of These is Love…
One of the most well-known verses from 1 Corinthians, and a common one used at weddings, Paul tells us about the greatest things in life:
“So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:13, NAB
When looking at this verse, it is also great to hear other translations of it. The Douay-Rheims, for instance, goes like this:
“And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” -1 Corinthians 13:13, D-R
Notice the suttle, but huge difference between these two. The word charity is used interchangeably with love. Why are these two interchangeable? Because charity has its roots in love, and love has its roots in charity.
When we give of ourselves, whether it be to the poor, the sick, or to anyone else, we are giving out of love. Charity is the ultimate expression of our love for our fellow man. For our charity to truly have an impact, it must draw its power from the love in our hearts. If we simply give and support to charities without love in our hearts, then we are not truly giving anything. While the time and money we give to charity will still support it, it will not have the lasting impact that it would if we were sharing our love, just as Christ did, with the world.
Likewise, love finds its true power in charity. Charity is the act of giving of one’s self without any expectation of anything in return. When we love, this same principle applies. Our love should be freely given without anything expected in return. Our relationships, whether they be husband-wife, mother-daughter, father-son, or between friends, depend on the love that we share. Many of these relationships fail because we spend more time thinking about what we are getting out of the relationship, and not enough time on what we are putting into it.
Faith is our belief in an almighty God, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Hope is our belief in the saving power of grace that comes from Our Lord. While these are essential parts of our lives, love should be at the center of our lives. Love is the foundation of our faith in Christ and the hope we find in His sacrifice. We must share that love He has for us with the rest of the world, whether it be through our charitable giving to those in need or our charitable love to our friends and family.
So, why is this verse used so often at weddings? Because love and charity are the center of a life with Christ. As a couple, we should freely and charitably give our love to one another. Personally, as I hope to soon stand at the altar, I hope that I can freely give the same amount of love that Christ has given me.