This article is the second in a seven series discussion on the attributes of a Chaldean apostle. A Chaldean apostle is a vigilant and faithful servant willing to accept in their mind and heart that Jesus is their God and savior. By having such faith the Chaldean apostle’s behavior will naturally change and begin to better reflect the Kingdom of God. Therefore, this series will examine the attributes of behavior that demonstrate the grace of our Lord and our choice to be a follower of Christ.
In today’s world being humble can be difficult. We are tempted and trained to believe that we are the center of the universe. Evil forces promote the “self” as God, replacing the one true God. We become vulnerable and lost; once we believe we are meant to be worshiped by other men or women. We beg for attention and passionately desire to be loved, because we don’t know that God loves us. Our actions reveal our cry for attention.
When I was young I wore the latest jeans, twisted my cap, and in every photo had strikingly posed like the latest model or rapper by “throwing up fingers.” I wanted to be admired. I wanted to be loved. I was so lost, until I learned that we are loved only when we love. To love I had to first learn to be humble, then I had to learn to give.
Embracing humility opens us to the Love of God, only then can we learn to obey the teachings of the Church. How can we obey anyone, if we feel we are better than “them” and that we deserve admiration and worship. Without humility, we create our own kind of (self-serving) love. Without obedience, our love will be lost for lack of a shepherd.
Through humility we accept God's definition of Love. By being obedient we commit to carrying out the demands of Love. In love, we can bear patiently the faults of others, because we concede we have faults of our own. Love is a great power, and allows us to serve God through others past the point of exhaustion. A life filled with God's Love is a great light to the world, and draws many people to Jesus.
Any Chaldean who has attended a wedding has heard the eternal words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The bride and groom accept the proclamation of Love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
In Pope Benedict XVI’s first Encyclical Letter titled God is Love (Deus Caritas Est), the mortal successor of Christ explains that love, “which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others.”
In Corinth the people had many gifts and talents, but they did not work together or help one another. Jealousy, envy, and the social structure made it difficult for Christians to feel united. Paul reminded them that the gifts come from one source, the Spirit, and they will flourish when they are used in union with that Spirit for love.
In Greek there are three distinctively different meanings for the word Love: eros; I desire, philia; I engage, and agape; I give, but they all get translated as love. Agape is the part of Love that Paul refers to in passage above. Agape expresses the experience of a love which involves selfless sacrifice through giving; charity.
The Catechism describes the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity (love). It reaffirms what St. Paul teaches – that the greatest of these is love. “By charity,” states the Catechism; “we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for love of God.” (1822) Without charity we cannot go to heaven.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said, "'Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-41).
In keeping to this commandment, Jesus passionately died on the cross because he loved us. He has shown us the type of love we should have for God and for one another, not the love that we see in our material world today, but a love that is divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional and thoughtful.
Jesus teaches that love is both unconditional and voluntary. This, self-sacrificing love for God and for one another is what Lent is about. Lent guides us through the important events and should stir our hearts to consider the way we live. We must bravely and honestly admit our behavior and determine if we truly follow the type of love Jesus commands.
Our Western Rite brethren begin their journey on Ash Wednesday, when the imposition of ashes is placed on the believer’s forehead. This is a visual message for every Christian, that the culture of greed and materialism is a pathetic illusion and no matter how rich and powerful we are all reduced to dust. Instead we should strive to cultivate the love of Christ that is within each and every one of us and promises eternal life.
The Stations of the Cross reminds us that it is not enough to remember the love of Christ. Chaldeans must develop that love for one another. There is no way we can love Christ without loving those around us.
The act of washing of the feet on Holy Thursday exhibit extreme humility by Christ. The master of the universe shamelessly washed the feet of his subjects. This act is a remarkable lesson for us in life. Jesus is telling each Chaldean how we should treat one another, especially our subordinates and those less fortunate than us. As the followers of Jesus, do we have that humility and love for those below us?
Death on the cross on Good Friday is the ultimate self-sacrificing love of Jesus for mankind. His crucifixion is the real act of agape. As soldiers to Christ, Chaldeans are asked to emulate that ultimate sacrifice of Christ. Are we prepared to do that? One Chaldean priest and his deacon’s unfaltering faith reminded our community of what Christ commands.
Some Chaldeans have not been blessed with the opportunity to lay down their lives for others, but surely we can sacrifice some precious possessions - our time, energy and wealth for the betterment of those around us. At the same we can give up something which we all possess in abundance - pride, selfishness, ego, anger and greed which impede our endeavors to serve others.
Through the exercise of love, we die to our ego, and forgetful of ourselves we live for others.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 16-17).
If any Chaldean truly believes in this one singular event of human history, they will put into practice what Jesus taught about love. The Sermon on the Mount, the parable of the Good Samaritan, the washing of the feet at the Last Supper, and his first words at Calvary are not mere suggestions. This is how we Chaldeans are to live our lives.
“We love, because he first loved us. If any one says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4: 19-21).
Christian love is practical. It is a new way of life. It is the way of life that we must live every day and at every moment.
Do we possess that love for those we encounter daily in our homes, the office and neighborhood?
Are we willing to forgive and offer our hands of friendship to those who hate us? Are we sensitive to the needs of others around us? Are we willing to go down to the level of the downtrodden to help them? Are we willing to patiently listen to those in distress? Are we willing and brave enough to speak out against injustice wherever it occurs?
Lent is a time for Chaldeans to ponder on all these. It is a time for unselfish sacrifice of love, agape, not for our well-being but that of others. Christ’s resurrection at Easter has given us the hope in our battle over death. Fasting, abstinence, prayer and rituals may be the tools in this battle but the key to victory over death is love; to give.
Frank Dado is a student of Theology at the University of San Diego. He enjoys the science of psychology and philosophy along with sports and writing. He has written many reviews and essays on the philosophy of everyday living and the science of behavior.