God is love and by His love we exist both on the human and the Christian level. Without this love, we would never have been. We are all invited to acknowledge God as our Creator and Father who unites us in one family: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1-2). We are called to grow and ascend in this affectionate love relationship.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God… not that we loved God, but that He loved us first”… “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… for if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us… Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (from 1 John 4:7-16)
The basic question each of us asks when they want to establish a relationship with another person is: “Do you love me?” And Jesus himself asked this question to Peter three times (John 21: 15-17).
Love is like air. Without it, we are not able to live in peace, enthusiasm, joy and happiness. In this sense, the first Epistle to the Corinthians says: “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal… Love never fails.” ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-8) The apostle Paul focuses on the “joy of love and giving”. Here I draw attention to the word “love” that is different from the word “charity” which tends more towards mercy rather than towards emotional love emanating from the heart.
Love is to renounce oneself and everything for the one we love sincerely. The love of the other, creates a depth within our heart and makes us available to them. Faith is synonymous with love. We believe in God because He loves us and we love Him and we trust Him and give ourselves to Him to be at His disposal. It is every Christian’s journey to bring something daily from God’s world into their world and to put on themselves something from Christ so that they can turn into Him. They become one as Christ and the Father are one. We, His children, blend in Him. And we, the mortals, if we blend in Him, we die but we live because in our deep being there is a soul that does not die: “I love my beloved and my soul loves Him, and wherever He rests, I am. I was mixed with Him because the lover found the beloved, and because I love that Son, I have become a son. Whoever joins Him who is immortal, becomes also immortal, and whoever delights in Life becomes alive” (Solomon’s Muwashahs, Syriac texts: p. 159). Our love for others is a kind of blending in Christ’s love: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).
– Love lives in truth and not in an illusion, it is frank and sincere, it knows no falsehood and no complexes.
– Love is selfless, it does not look for self-interest, and it ignores the mentality of “Give me and I will give you back!”
– Love, when it overwhelms our being, makes us grow wonderfully healthy.
– Love, when it lives in us, binds our life firmly even when there is some brokenness! Is not the Eucharist the mystery of Love? Christ offered Himself graciously for us whom He loved so much (John 13: 1).
– Love is emotional, it is not depressing, worrying or frustrating; it is big hearted and patient, refreshing, participatory, creative, and always renewed. It cannot be turned into an “article for sale!”
– Love does not grieve anyone and does not efface their personality; it does not do anything adverse and does not weaken in the face of hardships and pain; it does not believe in the cessation of life, but makes hope, confidence, vitality, energy, peace and joy shine in us. Love is a feast, a celebration and openness to the promising future!
– Love is a complete and harmonious maturity. Love does not need to speak, it expresses itself! The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3: 6), it doesn’t wear out; it does not get tired, nor become introvert.
– Love gives strength and momentum to face challenges and overcome difficulties, and it is the strongest link between us as human beings, and between us and God our Creator.
– Deep and true love is a reflection of God’s love for us, so we are called to educate ourselves.
– Love is a dynamic project that amazes, delights, elevates and transcends through gradual, not mechanical, integration.
– Love is free self-giving: a person who loves is not afraid to give himself up in a creative, life-loving marriage, or in a free and fertile consecration in the service of the priesthood or a monastery: through the body, soul, heart and mind. We sacrifice ourselves for the one we love and accompany them to the end. From this perspective we should understand Jesus’ words: “Whoever loses their soul will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
– Love is compassionate closeness, turning everything into a great good. That is why Paul asserts that love never fails!
I would like to conclude with the saying of Saint Sahdona (Martyrius), one of the greatest Eastern spiritual teachers of the seventh century: “The kingdom of God is within you “(Luke 17:21). For whoever possesses the love of God in himself, possesses God Himself. How great is the man who has love, and who allows God, Who is love, to dwell in his heart, and how wondrous is this small, limited heart that has spiritually sheltered the One that heaven and earth cannot contain.” (Complete Biography 188).
Cardinal Louis Raphaël I Sako
Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans
Adviser at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue