It’s Valentine’s Day, a celebration of greeting cards and boxed candy. The day when grade school children exchange cards with all their classmates hoping, yet frightened, that the one special person might know that his or her valentine was the one that was actually meant. It’s a day of candlelit meals at a favorite restaurant. Of course there is that one little smudge because Al Capone chose this day to eliminate seven “business competitors” by way of a hail of machine gun bullets. Fortunately, the greeting card companies, jewelers and chocolatiers have managed to tough it out and not let them distract them.
Originally this was celebrated as the feast of St. Valentine, an early Christian bishop – or priest. When it became apparent that all that was really known about Valentine was that he was buried on February 14, and believed to have been martyred, the feast became one of those “St. Valentine and others,” where Valentine probably was one of the “others.” So any stories of Valentine’s good deeds, characteristics or whatever are sadly just that – merely stories.
Valentine’s Day is most often associated with the emotion of love, and love is truly a powerful emotion. All of us have grown up – regardless of when we grew up – with songs of love and how it makes us feel. While love can make one feel wonderful, that is almost an unintended side effect, since love is more about how you affect others and make them feel, as opposed to how it makes you feel. However, for musical purposes that doesn’t quite work.
Having the most beautiful wedding and honeymoon may seem like love. Getting up at 2:00 AM to feed the baby or shuttling the kids to an endless stream of school, sports, music and whatever events with a smile – that’s love.
St. Augustine is quoted as having said, “Love and do as you will,” meaning that if you act out of love it is pretty hard to make bad choices. Love and greed are incompatible, as well as most of the usual vices. Pretty powerful, love is.
At this point most of us would be tempted to quote John 3:16, but that’s John talking. I prefer to go right to the source.
When asked which was the greatest commandment, Jesus did not quote one of the ten inscribed on the tablets from Mount Sinai. Instead he advised … “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39)
So this Valentine’s Day, celebrate love. It truly is powerful.