1 John 4:8-10
Grandma, why do we give Valentines to each other?” The question sent me scurrying to find the answer. No use simply saying, “It is to show we love someone!” That would never satisfy the questing mind of this young lady!
We sat down on the rumpus room floor with books before us and began our search. We discovered, of course, that Valentine was a man and not a message of love. He was a young pagan priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. He hated the persecution the authorities had unleashed against the Christian community and he helped as many of these tortured people as he could, but he was found out and imprisoned.
During his imprisonment he was converted and became a Christian. He became a martyr, for he was clubbed to death on February 14, in the year 269 A.D. Actually, St. Valentine’s day is consecrated to his memory.
While Valentine was in prison, he wanted most of all to tell his loved ones of his affection for them. Tradition has it that he could reach his arm through the prison bars and pick violets growing in the yard. He picked leaves and pierced a message on them, “Remember your Valentine” and sent them to his friends. The story says that eventually, he changed the wording simply to, “I love you.”
The story of Valentine is but the faintest reflection of God’s “Valentine” to us. God did not send a sentiment, He sent His Son.
“God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:8-10).
Janet Wiseman, Bridging the Year