Today is Valentine’s Day or properly St. Valentine’s Day. It has become a day emphasizing romantic love with flowers and gifts for sale in many of our stores. The romantic love between a man and a woman is a wonderful gift of God. However, it is not the deepest form of love, but only one form pointing to something far deeper. St. Valentine has unfortunately become submerged under all of the flowers and chocolates. St. Valentine was a third century priest in Rome who worked to help many Christians who were being persecuted at that time. His efforts finally cost him his own life. Jesus has said “no greater love has any man than this that he lay down his life for his friend”.(John 15:13) This is the true self sacrificing love of God. It is the love that St. Valentine showed toward those he served. It is also the love that makes romantic love truly complete.
Today is an interesting combination of designations. It is Ash Wednesday, and it is also Valentine’s Day. One sacred and one secular. But thinking about them both as God’s gifts, they do emphasize a depth of love God intended for the people of His creation. Valentine’s Day emphasizes romantic love. Within its right boundaries romantic love is a wonderful bond given to a man and woman in the covenant bond of marriage. Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten Season sharing again the depth of love God has for mankind in providing the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our cleansing from sin, and the restoration of our relationship with God. Love, true love that is willing to sacrifice for the good of the beloved, is displayed in both the secular and the sacred expressions of this day. So if you receive a Valentine’s card, or the cross made with ashes on your forehead, know that the true and only source of love is from the One who gave His life for you.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day. Very little is known about this man who has given his name to this day, except that he was a third century AD Roman priest martyred on this day and buried in a cemetery north of Rome. The emperor at that time had an edict prohibiting the marriage of young people based on his belief that unmarried soldiers fought better than married ones who did not have to worry about a family. Tradition says that Valentine believed that marriages were very sacred, should be encouraged, and preformed within the Christian church. He secretly married young people contrary to the Emperor’s edict. Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured. The day has evolved into a day of red hearts, roses, and candy, but the center still reminds of the sacredness of the life long union of a man and woman as God ordained. That was a truth the St. Valentine was willing to die for.
Happy Valentines Day! I hope you have a good day in sharing love for those around you – which is what each day should be. Valentines Day focuses on the aspect of romantic love which is great, but only one expression of the love God has given to mankind. John tells us that God is love, and that we love only because God first loved us.(IJn.4:19) This has always been astounding to me! Almighty God, Creator of the universe has the nature of perfect love, love that reaches out to seek the good of all that He created. As that love comes to us and works in us, we are changed, so that we love others with the same kind of love we have received. God’s love is never selfish, or self serving, but finding the greatest joy in what is good for the one loved. This is true whether it is romantic love, love for a friend, or parent for child. It is not soft and dependent upon emotions, but praying, speaking, and acting for the good of another. You are loved by God with a love that is beyond our human comprehension. We seek to share a small measure of that love with those around us. Happy Valentines Day!