Tough Loving

5 September 2008 Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 4, 1-5 Tough Love

Paul loved the Corinthians. He was very fond of them. He stayed in Corinth than in any other city, except Ephesus. He was first with Aquila and Priscilla while teaching in the synagogue. When the Jews became hostile to him, he took up residence with Justus whose house was beside the synagogue. He redoubled his efforts at the arrival of Timothy and Silas. His missionary efforts in Corinth was successful, achieving numerous converts. In AD 52, he was put to trial by the Jews and was sent for judgment to the new governor Galius. Fortunately, the new governor ignored the accusation, and Paul was able to complete his mission.

When Paul left Corinth to continue his journey, he received news at Ephesus around AD 55, that all was not well in Corinth. There were divisions and factions. There were groups under different leaders. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, and by the third letter, he decided to return there.

The first reading tells us of Paul’s bearing the heartaches that accompanies community-building. He took in his heart his people’s dilemmas and problems. He was indeed a good shepherd caring for his flock. He said that part of his love for them is to admonish them when their lives were reverting to a life of sin and strife. Part of his loving was to tell them what was wrong, even if it entails being hurt or hurting them with his words; or being accused and judged. As a matter of fact, he indeed wrote a letter whom he refers to as having said severe words.

There is truth to Paul’s situation. Love is often tough. We do not desire pain for our loved ones. But there comes a time when we have to give feedback in order for them to realize their wrongdoings. Filipinos often avoid hurting the feelings of others, to the point of tolerating a bad habit, an unjust treatment, and a sinful pattern. When we have to talk to another out of our concern, we experience pain too. We have to muster all our courage and invest our emotions before we can truly tell the truth. Sometimes, feedback giving is a risk we take: we might lose a friend or the affection of a loved one.

But when we are leaders, it is part of our responsibility to care for the betterment of our members. Not that we are credible enough (often no one is), but we are trustworthy --- worthy because of our genuine love and concern for them.

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