This first Sunday of the Lenten season falls on a wonderful day – Valentines Day which some might say is just a hallmark holiday but Saint Valentine was an ardent believer in the power of love and his story has influential implications for our understanding of God’s love today.
Saint Valentine was a third century priest who lived in Rome and was arrested for helping the Christians who were being persecuted by Emperor Claudius II. While in court, Valentine believed in God’s love so much he tried to explain to the Emperor Claudius II that if the Emperor came to know the beautiful gifts of life that came from God, the emperor would never be unhappy again and his army would be ensured triumph.
Claudius was moved by Valentine’s words but worried that Valentine might be saved from persecution, the mayor of Rome demanded to have another judge give Valentine his sentence.
The other judge, named Asterios, had a daughter who was blind and having heard that Jesus is the light of the world, the judge asked Valentine if he could give that light to his daughter. Valentine put his hands on the daughter’s eyes and said, “Lord Jesus Christ, true light, illuminate this blind child.” And then she could see!
God’s love is the light of the world that illuminates all the good intentions God has for us when we allow that light to shine in our lives.
In Deuteronomy 26:7-9 – “Then we cried to the LORD the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice, and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror, with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
God will provide for all of our needs if we first remove the barriers of our defenses that make us think or believe that there is anything to fear.
We can’t be true to God nor true to ourselves when we believe God will punish us or that God’s love is conditional for any reason. It’s then that we start to do things just to get on his good side – out of obligation, not love. Love is all powerful. Love is what can move us beyond any limiting belief. Love is an infinite source of goodness.
God is love and love is patient and kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it does not seek it’s own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong doing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails.” Corinthians 13:4-8
God is on our side and if we seek to fill our hearts with all of his goodness, we will be sheltered from evil. For when you feel joy about something, there is nothing that can or will stop you from creating amazing things. We must fill our hearts with joy for the life that we have, we must fill our hearts with peace, we must act from a pure love in our hearts.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High” (meaning those who dwell in the essence of God with Love, Joy, Peace, Forgiveness)…”no evil shall befall you, no scourage come near your tent. For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways.” Psalms 91:1-2, 10-11
And the most beautiful part of God’s love is it is for everyone and he wants everyone’s hearts to be filled with all that he has to give. “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13
And what do we need to be saved from the most? Ourselves. We need to be saved from the doubt we hold in our hearts that with God anything is possible. We need to be saved from the negativity we allow to fill our hearts over God’s love. We need to be saved from our moments where we desire for more without being grateful for what we have. We need to be saved from judgement – not judgement from God but from ourselves because whenever we judge others or ourselves, we are distancing our own perspective with God’s and therefore misaligning ourselves with God’s will. God sees everything that he made as good and desires us to do the same. Seek joy and you will find it.
God is love, all powerful, all knowing, light and truth. The opposite of that is hate, powerlessness, ignorance, darkness and lies. We’ve nothing to fear when we fill our hearts with the riches of God. Our purpose is to live on earth as it is in heaven!
That is how Jesus was able to withstand the temptations of the devil – he knew that the kingdom of heaven was within – and that by doing what brought him joy, what gave him peace, what he loved to do he would join heaven and earth again. The devil tempted him with things that were outside of him. God’s love in our hearts can “bear all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails.” St. Valentine would attest God’s love is heaven.
So in this Lenten season, give up the the things that drain your life energy. Give up negativity. Give up judgement. Give up doubt in God’s good intentions for your life. And fill your hearts with the love of God.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord by living on earth as it is in heaven – as is our purpose with joy!