Homily for Feb. 14, Monday of the VI week in OT year I, Memorial of Sts. Cyril and Methodius; St. Valentine’s Day Click the “play” triangle above to listen, or click here to download the MP3 audio file
There are a lot of things to talk about in today’s homily.
In the first reading, we have the first case of sibling rivalry and murder in the Bible, when Cain slays his brother Abel. It seems that family quarrels are as old as humanity. In what might be an argument against capital punishment, God sends Cain into exile, but forbids anyone to kill him, despite his having committed premeditated, cold-blooded fratricide.
In the Gospel, we have what is perhaps a rare example of divine sarcasm. After Jesus has just healed many people with incurable diseases, raised a girl from the dead, and fed 4000 people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish, the Pharisees come to him asking for a sign to prove His authority. Jesus sighs, says, “What do you want signs for? Sorry, this generation is not getting any signs,” and takes off in his boat. His disciples probably got a good laugh out of that, if they weren’t too outraged by the hard-headedness of the Pharisees.
Today is also the liturgical memorial of Sts Cyril and Methodius, the two brothers who evangelized the Slavic people, gave them a new alphabet, and gave them a liturgy in their own language, all back in the ninth century.
And to top it all off, in the Church’s calendar before Vatican II this was the memorial of St Valentine, which is the source of our secular Valentine’s day. He was a priest at a time when the Roman Emperor Claudius was persecuting Christianity, and forbidding young Romans to marry since he thought they’d make better soldiers if they were free from family ties. St Valentine defied the emperor on both counts, by performing clandestine Christian marriages. When caught, he tried to convert the emperor, and was put to death. He was a martyr for his faith and for the sanctity of marriage.
So, what conclusion can we draw from this collage of narratives? Perhaps this: no aspect of our lives is foreign to our faith. From the beginning of time, God has never abandoned us; He is our Creator and our Father, without Whom we could not even exist, and He is aware of and involved in every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it or not. But this is a loving attention, not an intrusion. The Church, with it’s apostles, missionaries, martyrs, and each one of us, is an instrument of God, permanently engaged in helping our world progress in every area – promoting peace, justice and forgiveness, education and art, healthy family life, and even good humor – in order to lead all people to God. May we be active and effective contributors to this divine plan of love.