“Feelings come and go, but God’s love for us does not.” ~ C.S. Lewis
It’s Valentines Day with a decidedly Slavic flair in the Catholic Church as Christ’s Mystical Bride celebrates the dual Feast Day of Saint Cyril and Methodius. Known as the "Apostles to the Slavs,” Saints Cyril and Methodius were actually brothers and are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic.
Why not Saint Valentine you ask? Well, you’ll have to be more specific. Catholic tradition teaches that there were at least eleven Catholic Saints by that name. Very little is known about most of them, although many are familiar with the story of the priest named Valentine who married couples secretly in the early AD years due to the fact that marriage had been outlawed. Upon getting caught, he was martyred for his efforts. And you thought getting a vacuum cleaner for Valentine’s Day was rough. Among the others, there was a Pope Valentine who reigned for all of 40 days in the year 827. He too as martyred. Others served as Missionaries and Bishops in France, Vietnam and Northern Italy to name but a few. 5 of the 11 are believed to have been martyrs. These men loved the church with great ardor and fervor, and we thank God for their witness and their courage.
In today’s 1st Reading ((1 Kings 11:29-32,12:19 we learn of the consequences of King Solomon’s infidelity to God. His “kingdom“ as it were is metaphorically torn to pieces via the disintegration of the prophet Ahijah’s cloak in conjunction with God’s ominous promise to Solomon in yesterday’s passage (1 Kings 11:4-13) https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Throwing-the-Scraps-to-the-Dogs.
Our lives too can quickly come apart at the seams if God’s truth isn’t sewn and double-stitched into the fabric of our hearts, minds and souls. As Saint Paul says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).
The seasonal aisles of the stores have been ruby red, pale pink and heart-filled for weeks leading up to today. Russell Stover starts appearing in Google Searches...(who is this guy anyway?). Facebook is lit up with fresh-faced happy couples, “soulmates“ if you will, proclaiming their undying love to their partner as well as their 3,117 Friends and Followers.
Is there a more misused and abused word in the English language than love?
It floats ethereally through the air, as commonplace as oxygen. I love pizza, I love Katy Perry, I love hazel eyes, I love the Pittsburgh Steelers, I love the color orange, I love (insert latest Reality TV Show here). Yet it’s God’s love that we truly yearn for. To love him in return is our vocation.
In Sunday’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 2:6-10) we will read of a love the likes of which we cannot fathom. “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.” This is God’s promise to you, his Valentine Card if you will. The Bible itself is God’s eternal and everlasting love letter to each of us:
“You may not know me, but I know everything about you.” ~ Psalm 139:1
“Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.“ ~ Matthew 10:29-31
“For you were made in my image.“ ~ Genesis 1:27
“In me you live and move and have your being.” ~ Acts 17:28
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” ~ Jeremiah 1:5
“I chose you when I planned creation.“ ~ Ephesians 1:11-12
“You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book.” ~ Psalm 139:15-16
“You are fearfully and wonderfully made.“ Psalm 139:14
“I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love.” ~ 1 John 4:16
“And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.” ~ 1 John 3:1
“Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.” ~ James 1:17
“For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.“ ~ Matthew 6:31-33
“Because I love you with an everlasting love.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3
“For you are my treasured possession.“ ~ Exodus 19:5
“Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart.” ~ Psalm 37:4
“I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine.” ~ Ephesians 3:20
“I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
“When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you.“ ~ Psalm 34:18
“One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes.” ~ Revelation 21:3-4
In our Gospel today (Mark 7:31-37) Jesus heals the deaf man, crying out “Ephphatha!” or “be open” in reference to this man’s ears. And so they were. Jesus seeks to rid us of our deafness as well, our deafness to the truth, our deafness to his love, to the power in his forgiveness. https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Seeking-Our-Ephphatha-Moment
Jesus cloaks nothing in mystery, with him there are no secrets as it relates to his love for us. One need only glance upon the cross to realize that. Instead he seeks to show us the way to eternal life by way of his cross, his commandments, his teachings, the sacraments, an invitation to enter into a vibrant prayer relationship with him. . . “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15).
“For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.” (John 17:26)