What Did St Valentine Ever Do for Us?
Rev’d Claire Reynolds, Diocesan Advisor for Disabilities and Additional Needs shares a reflection on St Valentine:
February is a month synonymous with love. The shops will be full of cards for Valentines Day – we get to celebrate, thank, and declare our love to someone we know.
There’ll be boxes of chocolates and bunches of flowers, ‘date nights’ and meals out.
However, St Valentine’s story isn’t about romantic love. Dating from the third century AD, Valentine’s story comes to prominence when, under house arrest to Judge Asterius, he prays for healing for the Judge’s daughter.
She is healed, and the judge, his family and 44 members of his household are baptised. Then, under Claudius II, Valentine is again arrested for preaching the Gospel and martyred in 269AD.
It’s only an anecdote of a letter written to Judge Asterius’ daughter shortly before his death, that gives his story any link with romantic love.
Far more prominent in his story is his love of the good news that Jesus had come to seek and save the lost. God expresses his unconditional love for us through the life death and resurrection of Jesus.
Valentine’s commitment was to tell of this sacrificial ‘agape’ love of God as far and as wide as he could, no matter the cost.
1 Corinthians chapter 13 in the Bible is all about love. The word for love used here is also ‘agape’ (in the original Greek). It’s an active love, not just a feeling.
The passage reminds us that without this love, life loses its meaning and shine; we become simply a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.
This love is our response to God’s saving work in Jesus. ‘Agape’ love is expressed in our lives through loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves.
The life of St Valentine challenges us that a life of love is the way of the cross. However, his impact on Judge Asterius and his family encourages us that a life of love means that others can come to know God’s love for them. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Many people haven’t yet heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of God’s love for them.
Where are we, as churches and as individuals, being called to express God’s love today?