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Tough love

(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13.7

Latha Feille Naoimh Bhalentin sona dhuibh...

Valentine's Day is fixed in our calendars as a day for expressing love - of the romantic kind. But who was the saint who inspired the tradition and whose name has become a byword for affectionate devotion? There are several possible candidates, none of whom seem to have been especially concerned with courting. What appears to have happened is that one of them was accorded 14 February as their feast day, which being around the time when thoughts turn to spring and lovers take inspiration from the awakening of nature, the occasion became associated with romantic initiatives - such as the sending of cards, anonymously of course!

To be fair to Saint/ Saints Valentine, the love which originally inspired them - and continues to transform the lives of all believers - is of a different order. There is nothing vague or shadowy about the love of God. Paul's famous description in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 reveals the extraordinary depth and breadth and height and power of love. Other biblical passages associate love with God and direct our attention to Jesus as the ultimate expression of what true love looks like.

Like 1 Corinthians 13 "love" can be so over-used as to lose its impact, which is why we need to refresh our appreciation of both. As Jesus reveals the character of God so he defines love because God is love. The love of God in Jesus is our ultimate reference point. It is not our experience of love which illustrates what God is like, these are merely reflections or shards of divine love. They are to be cherished but not for their own sake; rather as incentives to experience love in its fullest quality - through a relationship with Jesus. Happy Valentine's Day!



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