1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
What a charming coincidence that the romantic observance of Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday when the Word of God is literally packed with powerful messages of warning and hope, love and blessedness!
When so many lovers and very well-married couples will be sharing cards, candy, and poetic protestations of affection, we will all hear at Mass on Sunday the heartfelt words of Jeremiah, St. Paul and Jesus himself. Jeremiah cries out like the great prophet he is, first with warning…"Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings…" but then quickly and lovingly reassures us with the hopeful heart of his message…"Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord…" And as if we need even more convincing Jeremiah poetically describes those who hope and trust in the Lord as being like a tree planted beside cool, refreshing waters. What a soothing and heartening image. Hallmark Cards are not the only ones who send the very best to the ones they love!
Paul contributes to this feast of loving reassurance, much like Jeremiah, with a somewhat shadowy introduction, but concludes in his letter to the Corinthians with the proclamation that we all share in the glorious resurrection of Christ raised from the dead. Our faith is indeed in vain if Christ has not been raised. In fact, if Christ has not been raised we are still in our sins! What a horrible thought! But clearly Paul encourages us and wants us to remember that we are not still in the grasp of sin, that the Lord is risen and that we have reason to place our hope and trust in him. Paul and Jeremiah, each in his own way, gives us a message even greater than the most loving Valentine I would say.
The Gospel from Luke on today’s feast is the most powerful gift of all on this Valentine’s Day. Luke gives us his own perspective of Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount in which he sets forth the great beatitudes. But Luke’s sermon is shorter than Matthew’s and has the addition of several verses of woes, warnings to those who are wealthy and who very possibly ignore the poor. Clearly Luke has Jesus preaching to a different audience than does Matthew but his meaning is clear for all of us: living a life of beatitudes is not only about being poor, hungry, weeping, or persecuted. Even more we must make sure that we reach out to and care for those who have less than we. If we do this we will be blessed by God. This Sixth Sunday in Ordinary time, dear friends, can be a Valentine’s Day even more memorable than those of the past if we warmly receive the reassurances of Jeremiah and St. Paul that for those who trust in the Lord and place their hope in him their reward shall be to live with the Christ raised up from the dead forever. Yet, Luke brings a sobering reminder that we who are destined for eternal life must also spend a lifetime of caring and loving one another, especially the poor and those in need.
Fr. Pat Brennan, CP is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.