Valentine’s day is a very special day for couples, young and old, or those “in a relationship” status. Nevertheless, for us religious “it’s complicated”, valentine’s day is just another normal day—or maybe not. For the years I spent in the community, every year, valentine’s is always made significant and memorable. We start the day full of hearts, everywhere in the house. Flowers on the table and lighted candles on dinner. We put music to inspire us and move us to inspire others. Maybe, people would easily think how commercial-oriented are the sisters nowadays but I’d say Valentine’s day is every day and nothing could prevent us from celebrating love.
The first chapter of the gospel of Mark expressed the public ministry of Jesus, from the calling of the first disciples to the cure of demoniac, healing of Simon’s mother-in-law and others with various diseases, his preaching and thrpwing out of demons throughout Galilee (Mk 1,1-39). His ministry explicitly shows his great love and compassion to the people. Towards the end of the chapter, a leper came up to Jesus, wanting to be healed. He who was “moved with pity” was capable “to stretch out his hand” and “touch the leper” (Mk. 1,41). He did not hesitate to bring change to the life of the leper who approached him. He healed him and brought back his dignity and reinstate him to the community. No doubt about it, Jesus celebrates valentine’s day every day.
He was “moved with pity”. Sufferings are everywhere. In our families and communities, in our country and in whole world and no one is exempted. Children, young people, elderly and practically you and I are bound to suffer from any form. And sufferings that are all around us kept bugging us and can lead us to be “used” to it, to be “immune” to it. Sad but true, sometimes we are not moved with the sufferings of others anymore. If it is valentine’s day, we are so sensitive, so eager to ease the suffering of the person we love. Like Jesus, let us celebrate love. Let us be signs of love.
“He stretched out his hand.” I have a smaller body built and shorter arms and legs. Someone would even call me “little feet”. But as I think of the body built of Jesus, I imagine him a strong, big guy, who has arms that reaches everyone, who has “big feet” that travel far. He stretched his arms to reach, to bond, to bridge, to link and to connect. Jesus who was moved with pity, was also moved to stretch out his hand (no matter how long or short his arms was). In our world filled with sufferings not including the lists of crimes committed to innocent children, it is a challenge for me not stay with “pity-state” but to take simple but sincere steps to ease these suffering. I may have the longest arms, or the wildest dream or the greatest desire but if I do not practice “stretching” every time, I will not reach at any point. Great desires are not enough. For people who love, one should always take the first step and will it: “be clean”.
“He touched him”. Studies have shown the great benefits of touching. Dacher Keltner in his research on the Science of touch affirmed that “they are our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion.” Jesus too, should have known the great effect of a touch to the leper and to all who he heals. His will of healing the man, was combined with a stretch to reach out and touch. It is then evident that the desire should not be separated from the will and love cannot be separated from action. It was very clear to Francisco Palau that “love is works”. He reminded his daughters that we have been created “to love and to be loved and to live only in love” and “…to tell them to love You”. Often, being so engrossed with what we do and with what we have, we forget to look and touch our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most in need. We forget that life must be difficult and a simple touch can awaken in them the presence of God alive. We forget that suffering is everywhere and we are called to spread compassion with a touch, with a smile, with a greeting, with an interest of saying “how are you”. For people who love, everyday is a day to be spent with the someone special. For us, everyday is an encounter.
Today is Valentine’s day. A special day for lovers and couples because it reminds them of love. For us CARMELITAS MISIONERAS TERESIANAS, it is other normal day… or maybe not, because every day is a day towards a true encounter. Like Jesus who celebrates love every moment, bringing hope and transformation to others’ life, we celebrate love and celebrate Valentine’s day every day.
Clarynse N. Subijano, CMT
“Reina del Carmelo” Community, Lucena City