(the following post originally appeared in the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper and at http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/blogs/spiritually-speaking-1.61091)

Looking at the history of the Christian church, and many institutional manifestations of the faith that has its roots in the person of Jesus, you could be forgiven for failing to notice that Christian faith is, before anything else, a religion of love.

Christian teaching holds that

God is love (I John 4:8)

and all human beings are created in the image of that God who is love (Genesis 1:27).

So, if we are created in the image of the God who is love, our true nature is love.

The journey of faith is the journey to open more deeply to love. The goal of human existence is to live more fully in harmony with the love that is our source and our true nature. The Christian church exists to encourage this vision of love. We are a Valentine Community.

Today is Valentine’s Day.

There are many legends attached to the origins of this day. The most common story connected to Valentine’s Day tells of a 3rd century CE Roman priest named Valentinus.

When the Emperor Constantine II outlawed marriage in an attempt to insure a reliable source of unattached men for his armies, Valentinus secretly performed illegal weddings. Eventually, he was arrested and sentenced to be executed on 14 February 269.

While in prison, it is said Valentinus fell in love with the daughter of his jailer Asterius and sent her notes signed, “From your Valentine.”

Whether or not this story has any basis in history, the survival of this quaint tale of a priest, who became a saint after falling in love with a young woman, bears testimony to the value love bears in Christian tradition.

The failure of those who follow in the footsteps of Valentinus to embody the love by which our common founder lived, does nothing to diminish the vision Jesus left when he answered a tricky legal question saying simply,

You shall love… (Matthew 22:37)

The instruction “You shall love…” sums up what it means to be human. We are created for love. When we choose love, we live in tune with our true nature.

Whatever else we do on this Valentine’s Day when we hear so much talk of love, we would do well to look within and see what we find in our deepest being. If the testimony of thousands of years of spiritual tradition is anything to go by, love is the essential nature of every human being.

As Valentinus seemed to understand, we were not created for violent conflict. It is possible armies may at times be necessary; but taking up arms against our fellow human beings is never our highest calling. We do not prosper when our lives are characterized by antagonism, anger and aggression.

Valentinus risked everything in his attempt to support the flow of love in peoples’ lives. He gambled everything on the power of love. It is no mistake that his name is honoured every year on the 14 February, where the name of Claudius II is for the most part known only by historians.

As Paul said,

Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13:8)

And the melody of Paul’s wisdom sounds on down through the ages, manifesting in a multitude of forms, including the music of the young singer Brandon Heath who sums up the essence of Christian faith singing: “Love is a river that flows through…”

On this Valentine’s Day, open to the music of love; trust the rhythm of this power that created the universe and upholds all being with faithfulness and grace.

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You can read more articles from Spiritually Speaking HERE

For earlier IASP reflections on Valentine’s Day go here:

https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/the-fundamental-christian-thing-a-valentines-day-reflection/

and here:

https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/i-corinthians-13-valentines-day-paraphrase-love-is-a-choice/

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