I am resubmitting this blog since it did not post to the website back in February. Even though it is April, I hope you enjoy this throwback.
I cannot think of a holiday more sorely hated by singles and broke boyfriends than Valentine’s Day. This day has become a “salt in the wound” for the populace. It is an unfortunate annoyance, like hangnails; however, I do not wish to gripe about Valentine’s Day and the experiences I have endured as a result. My primary focus is on the man himself, Saint Valentine.
Little is actually reliably known about St. Valentine. According to legend, he was a man who lived during the reign of Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II). Several great works are attributed to him from healing a judge’s blind daughter to converting a household of 44 members to Christianity. Perhaps the greatest service he is most known for is his supposed secret marriages he performed when getting married was illegal for young men, and because of all these works, the Catholic Church has designated him as the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers (I do not know how they got that one to fly), engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people. Also, he is attributed to love itself.
Although I am certainly not crazy about the topic of Patron Saints, the work of Saint Valentine ensured he would be remembered for love. Perhaps one of the greatest questions a person must ask is the legacy he will leave. Saint Valentine ensured he would be remembered for love. Every Christian should aspire to do accomplish such a feat. Often times I find myself being convicted by the Holy Spirit about my lacking such attributes. During the sophomore slump, a student can become cynical as he hustles and bustles through the everyday grind of classes, extracurricular activities, and, especially, a school wide dancing competition (not that I know anything about that). Temptation arises to brush off people and neglect being open to others. If a person is persistent in this way, then his legacy becomes one of nonchalance, indifference, and distance.
Two of the greatest things Christ left behind were an empty tomb and a legacy. The legacy He left ensured He would become the most influential and well-known figure in the world. This entire legacy was built upon the foundation of love, and if we are Christians (“Christ-like”), then the same should be said for us. In fact, the more we lean into Christ, the more compelled we are to love like He does. The apostle John picked up on this notion, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). Our bedrock, our essence, our very innermost person should be predicated on the Epitome of Love Himself. Any and all anger, remorse, sadness, hope, faith, and joy experienced and felt as Christians should ultimately stem from the love Christ Himself showed us so the same may be done to others.
Often times the picture of love is seen as a tolerant and accepting; a go-with-the-flow kind of feeling. This image of love is incomplete. There exist times to be tolerant, accepting, and polite, but there are also times to be intolerant and defiant in the name of love. It is an odd mixture many people cannot wrap their heads around or would even say is a blatant contradiction, but Saint Valentine’s love for others caused him to go behind the back of the governing authorities in order to serve young couples. He defied in the name of love. Jesus created a whip to drive out the animals and money changers because of His love for God (John 2:15-17). He was intolerant in the name of love. Christ’s call to love is more than just a call to make friends. It is a call to make enemies as well. A call to stand up for truth. A call to deny oneself. A call to challenge. A call to bless. The love Saint Valentine showed got him beheaded. The love Christ showed got Him crucified.
Are Christians willing to love their fellow man to such an extent? To where it hurts? To where it offends? Christians must learn to love all while keeping in mind the goal is not to become egotistical and be defiant for the sake of our ideologies or views. Often times loving others will come with pain for the lover. The call to love for the Christian is for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, its residents, its enemies, and its King.