Valentine’s Day and the month of February are often considered the “love month.” As a student of Christian history, I discovered that Saint Valentine is not the patron of love.
Early monks known as Blountists researched and wrote about many of the revered “saints” in Roman Catholic tradition. One such preacher during a period of strong persecution of Christians was allowed to proclaim his faith and be heard, but only if he could heal the wealthy hearer’s deaf daughter. In fact he prayed for the little girl, and she began to hear immediately. The entire family became believers and were baptized. When the Roman Emperor Claudius II heard it, he sentenced the saint to be beheaded. Saint Valentine was buried near the road to Rome in a small chapel dedicated to his memory.
Today, much of the love holiday is dominated by card companies, candy makers and flower shops. In our pandemic driven world where disease and medical advice seem to drive our every move, we need to be reminded that love is a more powerful force than fear or hate. Our sacrifices are often driven when we really care for another person.
An ancient story tells of two lovers who wanted to give each other a special gift for Valentine’s Day. The young woman had beautiful long hair. Her special gift was to sell her hair to a beautician in order to buy her love a gold chain for his treasured pocket watch. Her love had sold his watch in order to buy her a special comb for her beautiful hair. Each made a sacrifice on behalf of the beloved. Our love is often demonstrated in our willingness to give something precious because of our commitment to a person whom we love. I can remember my grandfather telling me, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
Many of us learned “God is love” as our first Bible memory verse. John 3:16 reminds us that “God so loved the world that He gave His Son that we might have eternal life.” Perhaps this holiday can remind us to reach out to others rather than waiting for them to reach out to us. When Jesus was asked about his life mission, He said He came “to serve rather than to be served.”
In fact, He summed up the commandments as “loving God fully” and loving “your neighbor as yourself.” When we learn to love like that, our love will touch others in a life-changing way. Think about that!