Archbishop John shares his homily from the Archdiocesan Mass celebrating St Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is a popular event with a vast commercial industry, however Valentine was a real person. He was a Roman priest who was executed for marrying couples against the orders of the Emperor. It was his compassion for young couples in love that earned him the title of patron of lovers. Valentine is known as the patron of romance and married love. He risked his life by going against the orders of the Emperor Claudius who had banned all weddings so that he could more effectively recruit single young men for his army. Married love was so important to him that he risked and lost his life.
He knew well that these couples needed each other. Nothing has changed today. As married couples you need each other. You have found love in each other and your lives would be incomplete without one another now that you have discovered and give thanks for the wonderful gift of married love.
Some of you asked a long time ago, others not so long ago to make the public commitment of your love in the presence of your families and friends. This public commitment of your love – no matter how long ago means that you have a responsibility first to each other, and then to our society to keep finding ways to grow in love. You have the responsibility to stand by and support other married couples in this great adventure of marriage.
It is vital for us today to acknowledge the significance of marriage and family in our world. That’s why people go to a great deal of time and effort to prepare for a wedding – because of the fact that it is one of the most important things that every happens to a couple, the flowers, the frocks, the music, the dancing and celebrating…all celebrate the wonder of love.
Marriage does come with responsibilities – your marriage, your love is a gift. When you try every day to see your marriage as a gift – your love will grow.
I guess Valentine gave advice to those young couples whose marriages he celebrated. They were being married in secret, so some of his advice was probably how to avoid the wrath of the Emperor!!
I think he probably also gave them advice as a couple. The advice, and the words to reflect on are already in today’s Scriptures. There are many words in the scriptures, from Isaiah, from St Paul, but think of just a few words Jesus says to you: “You are salt for the earth, You are light for the world!!!!”
The world, our society, needs the taste and the flavour of salt that you bring - the salt of committed married love, between a woman and a man.
Jesus does not say, “you should be salt and light,” or “try to be salt and light” or “one day you will be salt and light,” He says : “You are salt for the earth, You are light for the world!!!!”
Marriage is a light; it lights up an aspect of God and helps us to “see” something of the love of God, the loving and profound intimacy between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Just as the Father loves Jesus totally and Jesus gives himself without reservations or conditions to the Father – and between them they generate the life-giving Holy Spirit…so too the love of wife and husband is much the same. Married love is a great mystery. God gives you the incredible gift of reflecting his love to each other, to your families and to the world around you.
No wonder Jesus says to you: “You are salt for the earth, You are light for the world!!!!”