When I was in grade school, I was taught by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I remember, they were always kind and gentle, even if there was something mysterious about their long, flowing habits.
On Valentines’ Day, the sisters would give us valentines cards, not just one but many. They taught us to address them to friends. I did. “Would you be my valentine?” one card said. Another was a valentine pieced by Cupid’s arrow: “I love you on Valentine’s Day!” All of us gave out these cards, all of us received them. I guess, Valentine’s Day was simpler then.
In the lobby of Davao’s Pinnacle hotel, there is a couch beneath a silken canopy and a rather gaudy image of a valentine shaped by tired-looking balloons. It is a couch for lovers, apparently, who wish their photograph taken on Valentines’ Day. The only one I know who had his photograph taken there is the Jesuit campus heartthrob, Brother Jeff Pioquinto. “Forever alone,” he captioned his selfie in Facebook, in teasing celebration of his celibacy. Others replied consolingly: “Alone, but always with God.” Amen! But some of his admirers swooned.
Personally, I think it’s great that there’s a day in the year when love is celebrated. The world can be rather cold and unloving. So a day when one brings out one’s wife or fiancé or future fiancé to say, “I love you!” is cool. The entrepreneurial students of Ateneo de Davao are going to have a heyday today selling long-stemmed roses and amorous cards. Some of the latter come with singers dressed as cupid singing, “Mahal kita, mahal kita! Di ‘to bola!” Things were simpler when I was in grade school! But, enjoy!
For those who want to take inspiration from the Bible on this day, I’d like simply to recommend the following texts. You know them, I’m certain. But reading them on this day may be consoling to Bro Jeff – and all others who have their photographs taken on the Valentines’ Day couch:
First the letter from Corinthians 13: 1-13, so often read on wedding days:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not provoked, takes not account of evil; rejoices not in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. But now abides faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Without love, I am nothing. Love is longsuffering, kind, not envious, not boastful, not puffed up. It leads to a heavenly embrace.
Another simple reading with a profound message is 1 John 7-13:
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is begotten of God, and knows God. He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man hath beheld God at any time: if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us: hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
Love is of God. God is love. He has loved us first. If we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. Can any message about love be more profound than that?
Finally, from the Gospel according to John (15:9-14):
Even as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love than this no man has, than that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do the things which I command you.
That your joy may be full, abide in my love! In my love, I lay down my life for you. Love one another!
Love is kind and gentle. And mysterious. Earthy, it leads to heaven. Happy Valentines’ Day!