instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Love is patient

In p. 91 of Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis discusses St. Paul's teaching that love is "patient" (in Greek, makrothyméi):
This does not simply have to do with “enduring all things”, because we find that idea expressed at the end of the seventh verse. Its meaning is clarified by the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where we read that God is “slow to anger” ( Ex 34:6; Num 14:18). It refers, then, to the quality of one who does not act on impulse and avoids giving offense. We find this quality in the God of the Covenant, who calls us to imitate him also within the life of the family. Saint Paul’s texts using this word need to be read in the light of the Book of Wisdom (cf. 11:23; 12:2, 15-18), which extols God’s restraint, as leaving open the possibility of repentance, yet insists on his power, as revealed in his acts of mercy. God’s “patience”, shown in his mercy towards sinners, is a sign of his real power.
Someone who is impotent to change things is not makrothyméi when they endure them without complaint (which is not to knock endurance without complaint). Off of which thought I riff thusly:

Sheep are not sheeplike. A thing can only be like something else, something it is also in some way unlike. While it is good for a sheep to do things sheep do, it's not remarkable, much less virtuous or praiseworthy or glorious, because the sheep lacks the capacity to do anything else.

We praise Jesus as the Lamb of God because He is also the Lion of Judah. He is a lamb-like lion, and we glorify Him for it.

Moreover, we are called to follow Him, in this as in all He has revealed to us. There aren't many aspects of our lives in which we have more real power than in the relationships within our own families. If this seems more evident in familial relationships that lack love -- the cold and distant father, the son who breaks his mother's heart -- that speaks to St. Paul's point that love is patient, that for the good of the beloved it forebears even the legitimate exercise of power.

Parents need to be patient in this sense with their children, so that they can learn to make the right choice when their parents aren't there to make it for them. Spouses, too, need to be patient, not only so we don't "end up incapable of living together, antisocial, unable to control our impulses, and our families will become battlegrounds [AL 92]," but to leave room for the other to grow in love for us. Husbands and wives who are always corrected right away will not develop the habit of correcting themselves; not only will they remain dependent and immature, they aren't given the opportunity to show love for their wives and husbands that correcting themselves affords. Impatience, even without anger, hurts both the lover and the beloved.