It’s difficult to pass by a store during Valentine’s Day season without seeing hearts or red roses in display windows. While its roots are attributed to selfless acts of kindness by St. Valentine in 3rd century Rome, today the holiday has become symbolic of romantic love and a pretext for marketing its trappings.
But what if we looked at “love” in the light of the One who is Love? How can our worldly sense of this one day be transformed into something that can last for many more days?
In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis offers step-by-step instructions on how we can share love with others in a Christ-like manner in a deep and powerful way:
- Listen: “The first step is personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys, hopes, and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs.”
- Share: Only after listening “is it possible to bring up God’s word, perhaps by reading a Bible verse or relating a story, but always keeping in mind the fundamental message: the personal love of God who became man, who gave himself up for us, who is living and who offers us his salvation and his friendship.”
- Be humble: “This message has to be shared humbly as a testimony on the part of one who is always willing to learn, in the awareness that the message is so rich and so deep that it always exceeds our grasp.”
- Let the Spirit lead: “At times the message can be presented directly, at times by way of a personal witness or gesture, or in a way which the Holy Spirit may suggest in that particular situation.”
- Pray: “If it seems prudent and if the circumstances are right, this fraternal and missionary encounter could end with a brief prayer related to the concerns which the person may have expressed.”
Pope Francis concludes that this method will help people sense a connection to God and feel God’s love through you. “In this way they will have an experience of being listened to and understood; they will know that their particular situation has been placed before God, and that God’s word really speaks to their lives” (The Joy of the Gospel, 128).
These five ways of sharing the love of Jesus Christ can enrich your everyday relationships with your loved ones, friends, neighbors, and even strangers you encounter—essentially, everyone that Jesus puts on your path. Isn’t that the real of gift of love?
For more about the importance of personal witness, read Witness Matters: Telling Your Faith Story.