Celebrating Valentine’s Day
By Mary Pandiani
Something about being forced to say “I Love You” on a particular day of the year just doesn’t sit right with me. I admit that as a kid I enjoyed the opportunity to create Valentines for friends and family, as well as receive them. However, in my adult years, the compulsory nature of the celebration makes me a bit cynical about Hallmark or other card companies trying to make more money. To be coerced to love doesn’t seem like love.
That is until I remember, that while I’m not coerced to love, I have been commanded to love. In fact, of all the commands in Scripture, the greatest commandment is to love the One who also asks us to love the other as we love ourselves. Perhaps in a world so bent on division, it’s not such a bad idea to show our love on a particular day, sharing in a tangible way the love we have for them. If only we were to employ the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you want them to do unto you,” we would see a world that operates out of kindness rather than out of contentiousness and aggression we see or encounter. In fact, we might find we could be with one another in conversation and community, whether we agreed on issues or not. Maybe I don’t have to see this day of love as coercion, but rather, it’s a day that can turn a day into a week to a month to a year to a life of sharing in love.
Pope Francis has some words on the kind of love that we’ve been given which impacts our love for others.
“Why do good to people who are not willing to accept you? It is a question that we too often ask ourselves. But it is a question that helps us understand God better. Faced with our closures, he does not withdraw: he does not put brakes on his love . Faced with our closures, he goes forward. We see a reflection of this in parents who are aware of the ingratitude of their children, but do not stop loving them and doing good to them, because of this. God is the same, but at a much higher level. And today he invites us too to believe in good, to leave no stone unturned in
Maybe when I look at today, instead of asking “what does love got to do with it?” I can wonder about God who loves us regardless of my state of being, who always moves toward me. Perhaps then, I can move toward another, loving those that are easy to love and telling them so; as well, I can love those, or at the very least, be kind to those who irritate or disagree with me. Maybe Valentine’s Day is about movement towards one another, lovable or not, and it’s not buying another card…although a card is nice to receive too.
by Mary Pandiani