By Roger Quick
This week includes Valentine’s Day. We may be tempted to dismiss this as yet another supposedly Christian celebration that has been hijacked by commercial greed, peddling saccharine sentimentality in order to make a profit. Indeed, we’re not even sure who St Valentine was – he was probably a Roman martyr – but his connection with romantic love is at best tenuous.
However. Human love survives all of this. (Unless you’ve given your Valentine an unforgivably tacky card!) Charles Williams – whom C.S.Lewis called “my friend of friends, the comforter of our little set, the most angelic” – believed that falling in love was a mystical state, enabling us to see another human being as God sees them.
That may help us understand a bit. But God’s love is infinitely better, infinitely more than that. Being in love tends to blind us to someone’s faults. But God sees us as we are, warts and all, and insists on loving us anyway: as Psalm 139 says, “You have searched me out and known me…You formed my inmost being”.
That unfailing love can indeed affect our human love; that’s why the great hymn “Love divine, all loves excelling” is often sung at weddings. We want our love to be as deep, and broad, and high as God’s love is for us.
So let’s pray this Valentine’s Day to be more loving not just to our sweethearts – delightful though that is – but also towards everyone; to show them the unconditional love that God gives to us: whose nature and whose name is Love.