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The Word on the Week

St Valentine’s Day

I may be a few days early but the 14th will come round and you still will not have purchased that card/flowers unless you heed this reminder! The Saint is not nearly so busy these days but he is punctual, showing up each year on his anniversary!
Legend has it that Valentine was a successful promotor of marriage. It is said that his success gave Claudius the Cruel a difficult time getting soldiers to join his army. The men preferred family life! Claudius’s remedy was to ban marriage, a law which the Saint ignored, resulting in his martyrdom around the year 269AD.
Dublin’s interest has been kept alive by the Reliquary containing some of the Saint’s bones being located in Whitefriar Street Church in 1836. These are placed on the high alter on the 14th February annually when marriages are the focus of the masses that day.

The phrase in the marriage ceremony “till death do us part” is said to be an unreasonable expectation in today’s ‘flexible marriage arrangements’. Life circumstances, mutual interests, careers and other factors fluctuate and so our expectations concerning marriage should also be flexible, so the Millennials say. “It is different now-a-days.” “Mobility is the name of the game.” Flexible working hours have now morphed into flexible working premises with many working at least part-time at home. For others the mobile phone has enable the car to become their office with meetings arranged in the nearest hotel. Relationships become more fleeting and work can become a substitute for life!
For many permanent jobs are beyond reach. The boom and bust economies in the West consign saving to the past and uncertainties abound in the world of today.
So how does God view marriage? How could he convey his thoughts to his people in the most unforgettable way? What is it he loves? The church of course – the global assembly of his people.
To his people Israel he presents himself as their husband; “Your Maker is your husband– the Lord Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth” (Chapter 54 verse 5).
This binding of himself to his people using the language of the marriage bond is used throughout scripture and speaks volumes of permanency and security. It finds its highest expression in Christ’s relationship as head of his church. It breaks out in the sacrificial love of Christ for his church, his bride (Ephesians Chapter 5 verses 22/23). There can be no more powerful illustration of the value God puts on the marriages of his loved ones than that of Christ’s loving to the death his bride – the church. And he gives this example for husbands to follow!
Marriage Week starts in many countries this coming Wednesday, to encourage those fortunate enough to be married to give special time and attention to that relationship. It also provides an opportunity for those not yet married, but who do not have the gift of singleness to prayerfully decide who should get the card or flowers!