Posts Tagged ‘love of God’

A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Claudius, Valentine become one of the noted martyrs of the third century. The commemoration of his death, which occurred in the year 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the early church of the West. Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, he left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly-shaped piece of paper. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations.

Reflection:  One of those new liturgical actions in a marriage ceremony has been the “unity candle” ceremony.  I was talking with a friend and dear colleague about my  dis-ease about this  ritual of the “unity candle”.  He had this observation: “Please note, Mark, first:  you do not need two candles to light one candle!  So what’s really going on here?  If we look at marriage as a sacrament, and the physical means of marriage is the two shall become one flesh, most couples have already consummated the sacrament.  So the “unity candle” has become an ersatz sacrament.”  I add:  kind of a white washed veneer on what has already occurred.  Most pastors will tell you that couples coming to get married are already living together.  

As a child, I do not remember Valentine’s Day being such a big thing. My opinion is that with the  disestablishment of the Church, marriage attacked on all sides, and the rise and desire for non-ritual worship services, that the void has been filled for such rites and rituals by the secular and idolatrous culture.     I like sit-coms on TV. Valentine’s Day becomes the plot in many especially for “hooking-up”.

St. Valentine is also about love, God’s love, agape in Jesus Christ.   Love is not neutral.  It is a good, an ultimate good. (1 Corinthians 13: 13 ).  But sinners like me don’t love as we ought.  Jesus came in love to redeem our love and cure and heal it.  I’m sure Saul of Tarsus thought he loved the Torah, his people and the like and yet he wanted to murder Christians but Jesus revealed to Him  His true love, even to one as Saul:

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5: 6-8

Paul’s use of the 1st person plural pronouns “we” and “us” was honest and he found out about love, true love: Christ Jesus loved sinners to death, His death on the Cross.  Luther on the difference between agape/charity and our love :

The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.

The Apostle wrote in Romans 6:1ff that when we were baptized we were baptized into His death…our love is also crucified so  that His true love take root in repentance and forgiveness and our hearts are made alive.  Paul and Valentine were both martyrs for our true Love.

Some traditions about St. Valentine was that the Caesar not only outlawed the Church but also marriage because the Emperor thought his soldiers would be better warriors not married.  Valentine insisted on presiding over weddings between a man and a woman.  Even if this tradition is not historically verifiable, yet it is probably from an earlier time.  It seems unreal people would be prevented from marriage, yet in our time secular fundamentalism is trying to stop all marriage.  St. Valentine, in his love of our Savior, is maybe the saint for marriage in our dark days.

Beloved in the Lord:  I send you all a Valentine, that Martin Luther described, his seal, and it includes a rose:

Click on this icon to learn more about Luther’s Rose or Seal

Almighty and everlasting God, You kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Your holy  martyr Valentine.  Grant to us, Your humble servants, a like faith and the power of love, that we who rejoice in Christ’s triumph may embody His love in our lives, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and resigns with  you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.  

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The New Testament reading includes the conclusion of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan Woman at the Well:  St. John 4: 27-30; 39-41 

Of the 4 Gospels, John alone records lengthy conversations the Lord had with several people:  Nicodemus (John 3), the man born blind (John 9), Martha and Mary (John 11).  They show us Jesus’ pastoral approach with people, the time it takes and through His plain words, the deepening of the faith of those people about the identity of Jesus Christ.

In John 4, the deepening faith of those who hear Christ’s Word, is shown in what the Samaritan Woman, and eventually the entire Samaritan town call Jesus:

  • “a Jew”, verse 9
  • “a prophet”, verse 19
  • “the Christ”, verse 29
  • “Savior of the world”, verse 42

All these names and titles are correct, but each, by itself, is insufficient to wholly know Him. This deepening  into  the divine Word about the Lamb of God is into the running fresh water of that Word.  The icon above signifies well what is going on in the Gospels by the portrayal of a cross-shaped well.  The Lord’s cross will be the bucket that draws forth the water of cleansing,deeper and deeper, in the triunity of the Divine love.  It will be in His Resurrection, bearing the marks of the nails, that Thomas will understand the fullness and depth of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father:  “My Lord and my God!” (St.John 20: 28). In Him is the depth of living water that drowns our sin and gives life to thirsty souls. The Samaritan woman’s comment is our prayer, “Sir, give me this water” (vs. 16 )

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