Valentines day this week recalls to us as early Christian saint whose name was Valentius.
His story was one of remarkable faith and commitment to Christ despite the edict of the cruel Roman emperor Claudius who demanded that all citizens gave homage to the twelve gods of Rome alone.
Valentinus was soon imprisoned as he could and would not adhere to the edict. Being a well-educated man, he readily agreed to the request of his jailer to teach his daughter Julia who had been blind from birth.
Valentinus taught the young Julia the history of Rome and described to her the wonders and beauty of nature. Julia soon excelled in arithmetic and more importantly Valentinus shared with her his faith in God and told her of the love of Jesus.
They fell deeply in love and despite Julia’s and her father’s appeal for clemency, Valentinus was martyred on 14th February, 270 AD.
On the eve of his death he wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God. He signed it, “From your Valentine’’
Never did this early Christian martyr realised that many centuries later he would be remembered as messages of love and affection are sent in his name.
The tradition, of course, continues.
Greetings cards from the hilarious to the deeply romantic will be sent and this fine tradition of expressing love and intimacy will be at the heart of all the celebrations.
I remember the very first Valentine card I surprisingly received a stroppy teenager. It said ‘Your’s till the desert’s sands freeze and the camel’s come skating home!’ – Unsigned and still guessing, you can’t get more romantic than that!
The Bible tells us that God is the source of all love because ‘God is love’.
One of the most treasured verses of Scripture is that ‘God so loved the world that He gave his only son’ Unlike the Valentine tradition of animosity God freely and openly declares his love for us.
We see the fullness of his love in Jesus who lived among us and in word and deed lived out the compassion care and forgiveness of God.
Jesus still comes to those who believe in him, forgiving our sins and to leading us in the ways of peace.
He comes to challenge our complacency and indifference to the forgotten and suffering in our world and to die on a cross to redeem us from our selfishness and sin.
The Bible is full of God’s promises and expressions of love and compassion.
An eternal message especially for you signed and sealed with Calvary’s cross. Happy Valentine’s day!
Photo: Gary Knight