In the 1992 bestselling book The Five Languages of Love, by Gary Chapman, the author explains that each of us expresses our love in one of five different ways: through acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. My husband, for example, is an acts of service guy – he will go out of his way to help me, our grown children, or his parents (when they were still living) with cleaning, repairs, projects, etc. to show his love, where I tend to look for the perfect gift to make someone feel special or brighten their day. Interestingly, we do not necessarily prefer to receive love in the same way that we give it.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which finds its roots in ancient Christian tradition. Not much is known about St. Valentine. One legend identifies a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men because he believed single men made better soldiers, Valentine defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages in secret. For this action, he was put to death. Another legend said Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape harsh Roman prisons. Even though the church removed St. Valentine from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, he is still recognized as a saint, and is listed in the February 14 spot of Roman Martyrology. We also celebrate a very special holiday attributed to Him.
Valentine’s Day is a day when we demonstrate our appreciation for the loved ones in our life. Expressing love, of course, should not be dedicated to just one day, and, as Catholic Christians, Christ asks us to love everyone. It is easy, however, to be kind to those who are good to us. It is much more difficult to love our “enemies.”
In the Gospel this past weekend, we heard that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees or we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew, Chapter 5). “Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” In his homily on Saturday night, Fr. David called us to acts of kindness. Matthew’s Gospel says we should not kill, but this is never a temptation or consideration for most of us. But, we are often drawn into moments of uncharitable behavior to our loved ones as well as our friends, neighbors, co-workers, or classmates. How often have we been unkind in thought or deed, knowingly or unknowingly? We can easily point out the times when someone else was uncharitable to us, but cannot recognize when our harsh words, looks, or actions have injured another.
So tomorrow on Valentine’s Day, let us go out of our way to express our love through acts of service, gift giving, or however we choose to demonstrate to our loved ones our appreciation. Let us also show kindness tomorrow and every day to everyone we encounter by keeping our thoughts and words positive and respectful.