Today’s Reading: John 5:1-18 (Valentine, Martyr)
“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk.’ And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.” (John 5:8-9)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Valentine has been remembered as a martyr since the early centuries of the Church. A priest and physician from Rome, he and his family ministered to those being persecuted by Emperor Claudius II. Soon Valentine also was arrested and martyred on February 14, 270. He was soon remembered for his acts of mercy, in spite of the bodily danger it would bring him.
The association with romance actually comes from an observation in England in the Middle Ages that birds began choosing mates around St. Valentine’s Day. People took that as a cue to do the same by choosing eligible suitors for their children. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the Roman god, Cupid, came on the scene, and we know what the people of today do “in the name of love.”
Today, we’re told, “Love is love.” Yet, what they mean is a strong feeling. Love is actually much more than butterflies in our stomach or devotion to another person. “God is love,” St. John tells us, and he follows that up by saying, “the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him…Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (see 1 John 4:7-12)
This is the purest expression of love, called in Greek, agape. Jesus exhibited that love to the lame man in John 5 by calling him to faith and healing his body. Valentine reflected that love by ministering to his brothers and sisters in Christ as they were martyred by the authorities, eventually suffering the same cruelty.
Agape love is what we have from God. All other kinds of love grow out of it: Philos, friendly affection; storge, a natural, familial love; and eros, desirous love. Too often, we are told that love is merely the eros kind of birds and other creatures “pairing up.” But today, when the unbelievers tell you, “Love is love,” show them how God is love, and what that love did: God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav’n, to earth come down! Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown. Jesus, Thou art all compassion, Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation, Enter ev’ry trembling heart. Amen. (LSB 700:1)
-Pastor Michael A. Miller is Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR.,
Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.
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