“Won’t you be my Valentine?” This familiar question appears on many of the cards that are sent to lovers and friends on Valentine’s Day, February 14. The origins of this holiday are quite obscure. It seems to be traced back to a little known bishop named Valentine who lived in the early days of Christianity and is supposed to have sent messages of love and encouragement to people in need. One legend has it that Bishop Valentine performed marriage ceremonies for Christian couples in defiance of a ban by the Roman Emperor on such marriages. Valentine is believed to have suffered a martyr’s death at the hands of the emperor.
However it began, Valentine’s Day has become a day for letting people know that we care about them. And the fact that this holiday has become so popular suggests that we have a great need to love and be loved. No matter how limited our physical or financial means, we are all capable of sharing love with other people. A kind word, a friendly smile, a quick thank-you--these are all it takes to let someone know that we care about them.
As with many holidays, Valentine’s Day has become so commercialized that it is easy to lose sight of the simplicity of its message. Advertising tells us that the biggest, most expensive gifts are always the best. Like children in elementary school or anxious teens, we equate our value with the number of gifts or cards that we receive. And we are made to feel that our love is less if we are not able to give costly gifts. But the reality is, of course, that the best gift is the one that comes from the heart. Each one of us is loved by a God who knows the true value of each person, and who gives us many opportunities each day to share that love with all those whose lives touch ours.
“Happy Valentine’s Day!” May we learn to let this simple greeting express our love and affection each time we say it.
Who Am I and Who Does God Want Me To Be?
Psalm 139 says, “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” So, God made me a child in his image and likeness, in mystery and awe.. God does this for me and he does this for you.
Does this mean anything special to us? Does it let us really and passionately believe we are related to God as a child is related to a parent? Can we imagine God as a parent who can do only one thing, love us? Well, I find it hard. My experience with my parents and as a parent tells me parents aren’t always perfect. But God is different, isn’t he? How can we believe and trust in this familial relationship with the divine, with mystery and awe?
Psalm 46 says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” This may give us a clue as to how we can believe and trust in our relationship with the divine. It doesn’t come through the intellect, it comes through the heart, through prayer. Try this. Find a quite place and say slowly and carefully, pausing after each sentence:
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
I find this gives me a different and a much more awesome vision of God and of my place and potential in creation. I believe God has something in mind for me that can be accomplished only by my individual and unique gifts. I believe the same is also true for you. I believe the sum of all these gifts, yours and mine will truly show us God’s love for us.
So, let us, you and I, focus on those around us, spouses, children, parents, family, neighbors, fellow workers and those we meet on the street. In other words, let us act as Jesus suggests in Matthew 25:35-36, “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, In so doing we will reflect the love of our heavenly Father.