Honouring God's love

Two tear drops were floating down the river of life. One teardrop asked of the other, "Who are you?" It answered, "I was shed by a girl who loved a man and lost him.  And who are you?" The first teardrop replied, "Well, I was shed by the girl who got him!"

The above conversation, even if only fictitious, reveals the irony of love in reality. Though the desire to love and to be loved is a deep yearning in all human beings, love by itself is no guarantee of happy relationships. There are bound to be disappointments in any human relationship. Yet, true love is all about facing and overcoming these disappointments. And it is this unrelenting spirit in a relationship that is celebrated on Valentine's Day commemorated universally yesterday.    

The day also marked the beginning of the very sacred six-week period of Lent for Christians world-wide. Referred to as Ash Wednesday, it officially initiated the annual solemn season of Lent.  This period focuses on introspection and self-renewal required for cleansing the soul marred by indulgence and sin. The observances of the ancient spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and alms-giving are the revered and suggested means in this process of self-renewal.    

Undoubtedly, prayer helps in resisting and overcoming all the enticing temptations of the world that keep us alienated from God; fasting aids in triumphing over the evil of gluttony and indulgence that makes man self-centered and pleasure-seeking; and alms-giving encourages sharing and is an effective tool in expressing solidarity of the better-placed with the poor through concrete charity. The six-week Lenten season that started with Ash Wednesday is thus a period for conscious spiritual renewal and growth.

Though a mere coincidence, there is much significance in Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday falling on the same day. For, enduring love that Valentine's Day honours can be practised only by attaining spiritual maturity that flows from the practices of prayer, fasting and alms giving. Both Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday draw our attention to the significance of lasting love that is the fruit of spiritual growth.  Hence, the two commemorations complement and supplement one another. God is love and honouring God's love on Valentine's Day by beginning the period of self-renewal with Ash Wednesday is therefore fitting.

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