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Chocolate, Cards, Flowers, What Is Love?

Greetings in the name of Jesus our Lord my beloved sisters and brothers in Christ.

As we begin this second month of 2021 it feels very much like the last 12 months. While vaccinations are on the horizon for many of us, we are still masked, social distancing, washing hands and sanitizing everything in sight. And still complaining about it all.

The month of February brings two events that we can reflect on: Valentine Day and Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season.

If you’ve been in any store, large or small, they all look a lot like Target stores with the red displays of hearts, candy, flowers and cards and other enticements to remember the 14th as the day of Romance. While it is good to promote love and friendship, romance and relationships it usually becomes as superficial as the advertising. And the day after…it is over.

Well, we have the opportunity to go much deeper in the meaning of the words, “I love you.” It is much more than just a good feeling, but it means a commitment to the other from us. When we use these three little words they can be very powerful for they mean that “I give myself to you; I’m here for you; I want you to become the best person that you are meant to be, even at my own expense.” It is a sacrificial love, and ‘agape’ type of love that comes from God Himself.

St John writes of this in his first letter: “ Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us, we ought to love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)

So by our sacrificial love for others we can be a sign and witness to God’s love for and in this world that He created, sustains and redeemed and sanctified.

Now we know it is easy to love people who love us, or who like us, or who even tolerate us, right, but what about the folks who are polar opposites from in their thinking, in their beliefs or in their politics. How do we go about loving them? I think the best way is to realize that god loves them and created them just as much as he does us. And that Jesus suffered and died for them just as he did for us. They just can’t see it or believe it but it is a truth that we know and have to share with them. By the power of the Holy Spirit may they see the light of God’s love. We just show up and sow the seed.

Reflecting on that kind of Love that Jesus lived, taught and died for is what our LENT is all about. We begin with Ash Wednesday – I guess it will be different this year as the ashes will be sprinkled on our head rather than on the forehead. But it begins our 40 day retreat that is meant to help us reflect on our own humble beginnings as creatures of the earth and our baptism that elevated us to become children of the Father. We recognize our sinfulness and brokenness and yet God’s everlasting love and covenant relationship with us. He calls us back to Himself. All of this is played out in the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus our Lord.

So February might be a short month but it has a lot for us to think about, pray about and put into practice.

May you all be blessed and may you BE a blessing to all you meet. Help put a smile on another’s face (even if you can’t see it because of the mask.)

Fr Jim

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