BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
As the world marks the annual Feast of St. Valentine through expression and assurances of love by lovers on February 14, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, Most Rev. Emmanuel Badejo has called on Nigerians to make the celebration count by ensuring that the love they express is Godly and indelible.
For the cleric, if people could actually emulate St Valentine’s authentic and selfless love, then the celebration should not only be marked on February 14 alone but that people should live in love always so that the society would be a better place to live.
The full text of the Valentine’s message of the bishop as obtained by The Point on Sunday read, “Once again, it’s Valentine celebration, the Feast of love, the Feast of lovers. Valentine Day is a day for all of us, it’s for everybody. For family, for husbands and wives, for young lovers, for old lovers, for every human being that is mad win the image and likeness of God. Because St Valentine, with whom this Feast is associated, lived for selfless love, love that heals, that helps other people, authentic love like his is so much needed in our world today where there is so much hatred, so much killing, so much bloodshed, so many conflicts all around us, we need authentic love and we need agents of authentic love.
Oh, how I wish all of us will become agents of authentic love. Authentic agents of selfless love. That’s when Valentine will truly serve as a Feast of love and of lovers. I am yet to find a better description of love than what St. Paul wrote in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, from verse 4 to verse 8, St Paul says love is patient, love is kind, love is never jealous, love never wants anything for itself, love is always forgiving, love is always hoping, love is always trusting, he concludes by saying love conquers all and that love never ends.
If that is so, don’t you think all of us need that kind of love? Everybody needs it, children need it, young people need it, older people need it, bishops need it, nuns need it, priests need it, politicians, traders, all of us children of God, we need authentic love to make sense of the life which we live everyday. And if that kind of love will be generated by us, then, that kind of love should be found everywhere.
Take a look at our country today, we need love on our streets, we need authentic love in our banking halls, so that people might be treated as human beings with more humanity, with more humaneness. We need authentic love in our motor parks, in our market places; Oh, we need authentic love in our classrooms, we need authentic love in our Churches, we need it in our Mosques, we need it everywhere there are human beings, where children of God gather together. That’s when Valentine will be truly truly served.
And by the way, Valentine is all around us, we need Valentine not only on one day in February, we need Valentine everyday of the year. Oh, we need Valentine whenever you see a mother taking care of her child without thinking of herself alone but of that child too, then, Valentine is celebrated. When you see husbands and wives showing loyalty to one another, showing love to one another, making life easier for one another, for each other to bear, to live, then Valentine is celebrated. Oh, Valentine is celebrated when you see young people who truly and authentically love one another, and who are looking for the good of one another, the progress of one another, there, Valentine is celebrated.
When you see those who care for children, who hold them tenderly and guide them tenderly, and teach them about what they need to live a good life, there, valentine is celebrated. When the priest, the policeman, the politician, when they all do their jobs for the benefit of the society whom they serve, there, Valentine is celebrated. Oh, the day we see politician who will pay attention and do something to relieve the burden of the poor or the downtrodden or the weakest of the society, there, love, Valentine is celebrated.
Don’t forget that St Paul also said that without love, I am nothing. That’s true, not only of St Paul but of all of us. If we don’t have love, what can we achieve? Nothing at all. Because love is the cement, it’s the glue that holds our relationship together and if our relationship don’t hold together, how can we have community, how can we have family, how can we have a nation? So, we need Valentine to be celebrated everyday. We need it to be celebrated in our hearts, in our homes, wherever we are.
I pray that all of us feel a true sense of Valentine in our hearts. God has made you different from the other person, so that you can make a difference for the other person. Let Valentine inspire a new feeling among us, let is inspire a new sensation of togetherness among us, let Valentine that you celebrate this year help somebody else to be a little bit more cheerful, a little bit more joyful, a little bit more hopeful, yes, love is in the air, celebrate a good valentine but make that Valentine to count.
God is love and he who abides in love, abides in God and God abides in him. Love conquers all. When love is authentic, it can conquer the greed that is destroying us, when love is authentic, it can conquer the discrimination that is separating us, when love is authentic, it can conquer the wickedness that is destroying our beautiful country. Have a happy Valentine celebration. May the love that is in you flow out to another, and may the love that is in you, turn the world around you into a better world.”