February 14. Sunday 6B.  Fr Brian shared a story highlighting Jesus’ compassionate attitude towards the poor, outcasts and suffering.  “Many of us carry an image of marriage and family as a cosy place of unity and comfort.   While this is certainly an ideal, it is far from the reality.   Even in successful marriages there are times of conflict and suffering, of rejection and broken hearts. From her teenage years Kate had developed a drinking problem and while their marriage had been a happy one at first when the problem became really serious her husband Mike, influenced by his mother, had rejected her.  She had become quite destitute and naturally that did cause him pain. Through the influence of a caring priest they were introduced to AA and this had become a life-changer for them, as slowly, by accepting God’s power in dealing with her disease a healing and reconciliation came about.  They even renewed their wedding vows and at the celebratory Valentine’s breakfast offered by the community they smiled intimately and, squeezing their hands, they raised their non-alcoholic glasses and toasted with gratitude to God their renewed love. “      

St Valentine’s Day possiblyoriginated in stories of Christian martyrs in the early church. One story is about a priest who helped soldiers to marry when this was not allowed while on active duty. Another story is of healing from blindness his judge’s daughter and then signing a farewell letter before he was martyred, “Your Valentine.” The day is no longer a religious feast but can be recognised as a very real cultural, religious and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love for all ages.  

Jesus, moved with pity, stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will, be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him and he was made clean.  Mark 1:40-45.  This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.  John 12:24-26.    AL

Pope Francis:  I think of St Valentine’s Day: in some countries commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than are we in the Church!  AL208. Love is patient, love is kind, love is at the service of others. AL.