By María G. Covarrubias
Love is the main focus of “Valentine’s Day.” Did you know that approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas?
Every February 14, across the United States and other places around the world, people show their love for another person by sending cards, candy, flowers and gifts, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did this tradition come from? Valentine’s Day was named after a Christian martyr who dates back to the 5th century. But its origins are in the Roman holiday “Lupercalia,” which was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.
The success of the Valentine’s celebration confirms that we were all created to love and be loved. We were made for relationships. This is not a surprise! Love is essential to our Christian story. God is love and where love is, there God is. God created each of us out of love and made us in his image. The greatest manifestation of God’s love is Jesus Christ. God sent us his only Son Jesus to save us, offering us life everlasting. “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).” Jesus gave us only one commandment…TO LOVE: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment; and a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mathew 22: 37-38).”
Pope Francis tells us “Jesus’ love goes before us, his look anticipates our needs. He can see beyond appearances, beyond sin, beyond failures and unworthiness. He sees beyond our rank in society. He sees beyond this, to our dignity as sons and daughters, a dignity at times sullied by sin, but one which endures in the depth of our soul. He came precisely to seek out all those who feel unworthy of God, unworthy of others.”
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect (Mathew 5:48). What does “be perfect” mean? For some time, I struggled with this concept until I read Colossians 3:12-15, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these PUT ON LOVE, that is the bond of perfection. “If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (I John 4:12)
When I read and pondered this, it made good sense, “We are perfect like the Father when we exercise LOVE by loving God, others and ourselves. This is how we actually become God’s children!
This “Valentine’s Day” as you give gifts to your loved ones, remember to take time to give thanks to the Lord for the love you give and receive.
Sometime during this month, stop and experience the deep embrace of God’s love for you, surrounding you. Remember God is love and where love is, there God is. Happy Valentine’s Day!
María G. Covarrubias is Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.