With Valentine’s Day nearing, it seems only fitting to talk about “love.” St. Valentine was a Christian saint and martyr who died as many martyrs do because he refused to renounce Jesus. As legend has it, Valentine also cured a blind girl and sent her a message before his execution signed “your Valentine.” Another legend purports that as a priest, Valentine used to defy the Roman emperor by performing Christian weddings to keep men from going to war. No matter, we all know that love is important to God. It is mentioned over 550 times in the (NIV) Bible; we know that “God is love” (John 4:16) and from the Gospels that Jesus told us the most important commandments are to “love God with all our heart, with all our mind and with all our soul” and “to love thy neighbor as oneself.”
So how come it’s not so easy to love all of the time, and in fact, can be very difficult? Some of you know that my husband and I have a blended family of five children (and now two grandchildren). Just recently my step-daughter came home from Australia where she was going to school and working as an au pair. She and I had often butted heads, as they say, in the past; this was the child who, two weeks prior, refused to be in our wedding (I forget what she was mad about – I don’t even think she remembers as it was over eight years ago…and luckily she changed her mind on our wedding day!) But as we both have grown since then, we had gotten to a good place in our relationship when she left over two years ago to be abroad. Still, change is hard, especially as you get old and set in your ways! I am choosing to be loving – even when I don’t feel it – because I know that this is how God wants me to be. And I realize that love must begin at home if we are to ever show it to strangers – the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the orphaned.
As St. Paul so eloquently writes, “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 account of wrongs. Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; Love never fails.”
Is there someone in your life – friend or family member – who you might take for granted or even hold a grudge against? I think we must look at the people, especially those who live with us…as worthy of our love, and take action to do and say loving things every day to stay in spiritually fit condition when it comes to following that all-important command of Jesus. For every person is a child of God, so in loving others, we truly are loving Him…and also realizing He loves us at the same time.
Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to all!