Posted on: 2016-02-13

Valentine concerns

Valentine celebrations have become the nursery for various expressions of love. This year around the annual Valentine Day, analysts would have expressed diverse opinions on the true meaning of love. In fact it would have been everyone to his own opinion. The commercial and media environment have always ensured that what we knew as the original meaning and reason for Valentine day is gradually obfuscated and even altogether jettisoned. More than Christmas, Valentine Day has been focused more on carnal emotions and expressions of love especially among young people than on the core values around which it originated. No thanks to the media such a valentine day gets more coverage than the Lenten fast. Would that it were not so because the media and other public resources could surely be better exploited to promote altruistic love, which Saint Valentine  is celebrated for. Today, all sorts of solutions are proposed for rescuing Nigeria from the doldrums of decadence and greed. Among these is a recent proposal to introduce of anti- corruption studies in educational institutions. But formal classroom education cannot cover everything. In fact, some public and social occasions, carefully managed, could modify public attitude and character far more effectively. Saint Valentine's purpose of selfless love and charitable concern for those in need, much needed in our world, is that kind.

Endless love

Many songs, poems, odes and books have been written on the theme of endless love. For true Christians, none can match the version of Jesus Christ's, which proclaimed the highest level of love. By his very coming into the world to become one like us, by His teachings and by his death and resurrection, Jesus redefined history's meaning of love. Of him, the Gospel of John  taught: "Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but may have eternal life". This proposition is reinforced by his definitive statement:  "Love one another as I have loved you....There is no greater love than this, than to give one's life for one's friends;..." (Jn. 15: 12-13). After Jesus' death and resurrection, John the apostle wrote in his letter: "God is love and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. However, perhaps the most enduring ode to love in the New Testament comes from Paul, the apostle known for his initial  animosity to Jesus. (1 Cor. 13). Love is patient, kind, without envy. It is not boastful or arrogant. it is not ill-mannered nor does it seek its own interest. Love overcomes anger and forgets offenses. it does not take delight in wrong but rejoices in truth....Love endures everything" (1Cor 13:4-7).  

The world's true valentine

The popular account of the origin of Valentine's feast is about  Saint Valentine, daring the authorities of his time to help prisoners to unite with their families even in hard, war times so that couples could experience each other's love. The saint accomplished the feat at considerable risk to his own life and comfort. The kind of love which he promoted was a restorative, redemptive love. How the world of today needs such kind of love with so much death, bloodshed, destruction and misery all around us! Much of the evil we see today in our world is not unavoidable, but is provoked by relentless human selfishness, greed, negligence and violence. We need authentic valentines in our homes, in  our streets in our communities marketplaces, churches and schools to cultivate love unity and togetherness and turn around the catastrophe of the moment and lead us in a different direction of true human civilization. Johann Wolfgang Goethe once wrote: "Love does not dominate, it cultivates".  But it is never going to be easy for human beings with all their finite selfishness to completely love on their own. No wonder that Katherine Anne Porter has said that love must be learned and learned again and again; there is no end to it.  Hate needs no instruction but waits only needs to be provoked.

Blessings in catastrophe

The great tragedies of our world today; the migrant crisis, terrorist acts, wars, the epidemic of abortion, earthquakes and strange diseases constitute a great catastrophe for the human race. Fortunately such moments in God's plan can also be moments of great grace and restoration. The promise of Jesus summarized it: "But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift your heads because your redemption is at hand" (Lk. 21:28).  The Archbishop Fulton Sheen understood this well when  he wrote: "Darkness may be creative, for it is there that God plants his seeds to grow and his bulbs to flower. It is at night that the sheep which are scattered are gathered into the unity of the sheepfold, when the children come to their mother and the soul back again to God". The Year of Mercy declared in the Catholic Church worldwide becomes an imperative for the rebirth of true, redeeming love in every Christian if we truly desire to restore cosmic harmony. Such love in Jonathan saved David. The Father's forgiving love saved the Prodigal Son. It is long overdue for  Christians to show up as modern day Valentines witnessing that Christ's message of love has enough power to transform our country and world. Time it is for us to  join heaven and earth together with our sacrifice and quench the world's worst hunger, lovelessness, with selfless love.