The story of Jesus and his encounter with a rich young ruler appears in Matthew 19:16–30, Mark 10:17–31 and Luke 18:18–30. As with the young man in the story it is a struggle for each of us to know how to use our material wealth to serve others. The story says that when the young ruler went away sad because of his attachment to his wealth, Jesus had compassion on him. I think Jesus understood his dilemma, as I think he understands our struggle with material possessions.
In February we celebrate the life and ministry of the 3rd century Saint Valentine. Like the 4th century Saint Nicholas, Saint Valentine cared for the poor in his community. We celebrate their ministries, and yet we find it difficult to emulate their lives. It is fun to give gifts and to celebrate love, but we find it difficult to commit our entire lives to Christ.
The last verse of the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross has always held profound meaning to me:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
When we think of the grace that God has poured out on us, it is difficult to begin to imagine how we might repay that gift of love. I believe like Saint Valentine and Saint Nicholas the only way we are able to respond to the gift of love, is to love others the way we have been loved.
I hope that on this February 14 we can celebrate the gift of love by loving others. In particular those who need our love, our compassion and our care. Particularly the disenfranchised, the strangers among us and those who go without the material blessings we experience.
May God give you a blessed Valentines’ Day this year,