It’s Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day gets a lot of hype in our consumerist society doesn’t it?

Do you know the origin of Valentine’s Day? 

One source cited that there was a priest by the name of Valentine who lived in Rome about 250 AD.  At that time, Rome was ruled by Emperor Claudius II who desired a big army but found many men just wouldn’t volunteer– they did not want to leave their wives and girlfriends (and who would blame them :).  This infuriated Claudius II, so he got this crazy idea that if men were not married, they would join his army.  Claudius II decided not to allow any more marriages.   Young people thought his new law was cruel.  Valentine thought it was ridiculous!  One of his favorite jobs as a priest was to marry people.

As the story goes, after Emperor Claudius II passed his law, Valentine kept on performing marriage ceremonies – but secretly.  He would whisper the words of the ceremony, while listening for soldiers on the steps outside.  One night, he did hear footsteps.  The couple he was marrying escaped, but he was caught.  He was thrown in jail and told that his punishment was death.  

And do you know what happened?  

Many young people came to the jail to visit him.  They threw flowers and notes up to his window.  They wanted him to know that they, too, believed in love.  One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard.  Her father allowed her to visit him in his cell where they often sat and talked for hours.   On the day he was to die, he left her a note thanking her for her friendship and loyalty.  He signed it, "Love from your Valentine." That note started the custom of exchanging love notes on Valentine's Day.  It was written on the day he died, February 14, 269 A.D.  Now, every year on this day, people remember and think about love and friendship.

Love” and “friendship” are huge themes in the Word of God.   For instance 1 John 3:18 says: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”   We are told that our love must be true love and that we should show that love by what we do. Our words have to match our actions if we really mean them.  St. Valentine backed up his belief with action.  He continued to perform marriage ceremonies even though he knew he could die for doing it.   As we know, St. Valentine’s actions were not so unique. God showed His extravagant love for us first.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

He did this for you and for me – before we even knew that God existed.  God gave us the greatest “Valentine’s Day” gift ever given!   

But how do we show our love for Him? 

The Bible is clear that God calls us to love others as Jesus loves us.  We can say that we love others – but what does it look like?  And does it only happen once a year on Valentine’s Day.  I don’t think so.  It means that in our daily, everyday lives we need to treat people the way we want to be treated.  With love.  I suppose what I am trying to say is that actions sometimes do speak louder than words!   

Today, on Valentine’s Day remember that you have already been given the greatest Valentine’s gift of all.  And as a response to His Love let us love others  just as “extravagantly”!