The Supreme Gift

The Supreme Gift by Paulo Coelho Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Supreme Gift by Paulo Coelho Read Free Book Online
Authors: Paulo Coelho
    The passage I have just read out takes us back to the early days of Christianity. And as we heard: ‘So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’
    This is no superficial judgement on the part of Paul, who wrote these words. After all, a moment before, he was speaking about Faith. He said: ‘If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.’
    Paul does not avoid the subject, on the contrary, he compares Faith and Love and concludes:
    ‘…and the greatest of these is Love.’
    It must have been very hard for him to say that; after all, we usually commend to others what we consider to be our own strongest point, and love was not Paul’s strong point. Any observant student will have noticed that, as he grew older, Paul became more tolerant, more tender-hearted. However, the hand that wrote ‘the greatest of these is Love’ had often been stained with blood in its youth.
    Besides, this Letter to the Corinthians is not the only document to state that Love is the summum bonum , the highest or supreme good. All the major works in Christianity agree on that point.
    Peter says: ‘Above all, hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.’
    John goes still further: ‘God is Love.’
    In another text of Paul’s, we read: ‘Love is the fulfilling of the Law.’
    Why did Paul say that? At the time, people thought that the way to reach Paradise was by keeping the Ten Commandments, as well as the hundreds of other commandments based on the Tablets of the Law. Fulfilling the law was everything. It was more important than life itself.
    Then Christ said: ‘I will show you a simpler way. If you do one thing, you will do these hundred and ten things, without ever thinking about them. If you love, you will unconsciously fulfill the whole law.’
    We can judge for ourselves if this advice works.
    Take any one of the commandments:
    ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.’
    That is Love.
    ‘Take not His name in vain.’
    Would we dare to speak lightly of someone we love?
    ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’
    Do we not wait longingly for the day when we will meet our beloved in order to devote ourselves to Love? It will be the same if we love God.
    Love requires us to obey all of God’s laws.
    When someone loves, there is no need to tell him that he must honour his father and his mother or that he must not kill. It would be offensive to tell anyone who loves his fellow man and woman that he must not steal – how could he steal from those he loves? And why urge him not to bear false witness? He would never do such a thing, just as he would be utterly incapable of coveting his neighbour’s wife.

    * * *
    Love, then, is ‘the fulfilling of the Law’.
    Love is the rule that contains all the other rules.
    Love is the commandment that justifies all the other commandments.
    Love is the secret of life.
    Paul learned this and, in the letter I read from just now, he gave us the best and most important description of the summum bonum – the highest good.

    P aul begins by comparing Love with other qualities that were greatly valued at the time.
    He compares it with eloquence; a noble gift capable of touching people’s hearts and minds and encouraging them to carry out important sacred tasks or deeds that go above and beyond the call of duty.
    Paul says of great preachers: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am become a noisy gong, or a clanging cymbal .
    And we all know why. We often hear what seem to be great ideas capable of transforming the world. But they are mere words devoid of emotion, empty of Love, which is why they do not touch us, however logical and intelligent they may seem.
    Paul compares Love with Prophecy. He compares it with Mysteries. He compares it with Faith. He compares it with Charity.
    Why is Love greater than Faith?

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