EPISTLE (I Cor. 13:1-13) Brethren, if I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not; dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; is not ambitious; seeketh not her own; is not provoked to anger; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part: but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known. And now there remain faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.
EXPLANATION In this epistle St. Paul speaks of the necessity, the excellence and the nature of true charity. He says that all natural and supernatural gifts, all good works, even martyrdom, cannot save us if we have not charity; because love alone can render our works pleasing to God. Without charity, therefore, though ever so many prayers be recited, fasts observed, and good deeds performed, nothing will be acceptable to God, or merit eternal life. Strive then, O Christian soul, to lead a pious life in love, and to remain always in the state of grace.