Bishop Broderick Pabillo
Love is the craze of February, especially of February 14. So we see red hearts everywhere, especially in malls.
Love is a much used, and at the same time, mis-used word. People use it often but it can have different meanings for different people.
For some "love" is equivalent to "like," as for example, "I love ice cream" to mean "I like ice cream." So "I love" can just mean "I like you."
For others, love has a stronger meaning. It involves a lot of emotion and sentimentality. This is the love that people refer to on Valentine’s Day. It is romantic love.
Christianity is very much connected to love because of our understanding that God is love, which is clearly revealed in Scriptures.
"Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love." (1 Jn. 4:8)
"We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him." (1 Jn. 4:16)
So when we Christians speak of love we first of all speak of God’s love, because he is the source and model of love.
"In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins." (1 Jn. 4:10)
"We love because he first loved us." (1 Jn. 4:19)
God loves by giving us his best, his only-begotten Son.
"The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." (1 Jn. 3:16)
The love of God is characterized by giving. So we too are enjoined to love by giving, even our very lives.
"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (Jn. 15:13)
Here comes the contrast between Christian love and love that many people associate with Valentine’s Day.
Christian love is deeper because its source is God. It is more than just emotion or sentimentality which is temporary.
Christian love is commitment, not for the good of the lover but for the good of the beloved, even to the point of sacrificing and denying oneself for the sake of the other.
Thus the Christian image of love is Jesus Crucified or the Sacred Heart of Jesus – pierced and wounded heart yet burning with love.
But this is also the origin of Valentine love, because St. Valentine was a martyr. He showed his love by giving his life. It is just so unfortunate that this deep, self-sacrificing love has been narrowed down, and been very much commercialized in our world today.
For us Christians, February is not only the month of love but also the month of life. It is Pro-Life Month. Love and life are so much connected to each other. True love is life-giving.
Life is nurtured in love. Love and life are brought together in the family. The family is formed by a man and woman so committed to each other in love that they tie their lives together permanently, whatever may come, health, sickness, poverty, or wealth.
This love is open to life. So they are ready to receive the gift of children. The children that come about because of love grow in an atmosphere of love in the family. Therefore, to destroy and weaken the family is to attack life and love.
Can one celebrate love on Valentine’s Day and promote divorce, safe-sex unions, death penalty, abortion and contraception? All of these weaken families and destroy life. To love is to promote and defend life and family.