Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day. According to legends surrounding the saint for whom this day is named, he encouraged courtship and marriage among young couples of his time while the local emperor discouraged soldiers from distracting themselves through romance when they needed to focus on battle. Valentine knew that love always wins. We pay him tribute with candy and card exchanges in elementary schools and tables for two at the finest restaurants around the globe.
Love is in the air throughout Chiefs’ kingdom this week as parties and parades celebrate the Super Bowl LVII championship. With commanders like Big Red, unsung heroes from Bolton to Pacheco, and uniformed warriors on the battlefield who achieve that ultimate victory, we celebrate the conquering champs as they return home. With dancing in the streets, hugs to strangers, and smiles all around, a different kind of jubilatory love swirls within the atmosphere as we are assured that all is well in the kingdom.
As C. S. Lewis once noted, love takes many forms, and the language of the Bible distinguishes them better than our English tongue which has only one word for it. He speaks of brotherly love (philia), like that highlighted by the Kelce Family. Jason and Travis (as with Peyton and Eli or Ronde and Tiki) are fiercely competitive, greatly entertaining, immensely talented, and endearingly supportive. Jason had to lift his younger brother and carry him on various occasions when he was less mature; today they celebrate each other’s accomplishments.
Caritas is a Latin word that summarizes charitable love which shows compassion to citizens who are less fortunate or in crisis. We see it each new year when the regular season turns to the playoffs in route to the Super Bowl as communities across the country collect cans of soup to stock food pantries from coast to coast, connecting football fun with real life struggles. We see it in the response to the victims of the earthquake that rocked Syria and Turkey with an outpouring of support for those who are homeless, missing, separated from loved ones, or who have to bury dead family members and friends. We see it in the way that the football world stopped to honor Damar Hamlin, safety for the Buffalo Bills, who was brought back to life on the field in Cincinnati, and how millions of people contributed to his charity to help children. These forms of love for family, friends, and strangers remind us that, though things don’t always go right, love prevails.
Love is still in the air when things go sour, even in romance and marriage. The tales go back to ancient times. Socrates must have been in a woeful union, for he once advised followers: “By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.” Groucho Marx added to the humor, “I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.” Others pile on, like movie producer Jimmy Townsend who said, “Marriage teaches you loyalty, forbearance, self-restraint, meekness, and a great many other things you wouldn’t need if you had stayed single.” Though it is easy to joke about the challenges of marriage and obstacles that men and women face together, it is good to keep in our daily prayers those in difficult unions, much as we pray for those in bad health because we trust that love always wins.
Love is in the very air that we breath because God breathed life into each of us. As Christians we touch the passionate energy, fiery grace, and divine breath of the Holy Spirit. As marital love reflects romance, passion, sacrifice, kindness, encouragement, unity, compassion, giving and forgiving, it is probably the greatest manifestation of the love God shares with human beings. Divine spirit and energy animate the covenant of love that God has for all of us.
Whether romantic love, charitable love, brotherly love, sacrificial love, jubilation, or just the simple loving acts we occasionally express while driving the streets or encountering a stranger, let’s remember that love is in the air; and even when natural disasters or horrible tragedies occur in our lives or in our world, love will prevail.