Memorial of Saint Cyril, monk, and Saint Methodius, bishop
(Genesis 6:5-8.7:1-5.10; Mark 8:14-21)
Today, as lovers present their beloveds Valentine chocolate, the gospel hints at a more precious gift. It suggests that Jesus is God’s gift of life to the world. He is the “one loaf” of bread, the basic nutrition of Palestinian as well as most western societies. Unable to grasp this meaning, the disciples misunderstand Jesus’ association of the Pharisees with leaven as a reference to bread. They do not realize that he is warning them about puffed up egos that make people think of themselves as better than others.
In contrast Jesus expects his disciples to serve one another. They are to give themselves as, if you will, Valentines of care. Jesus indicates his own abundant love when he points to all the leftover bread which he produced. The disciples will not be able to appreciate all that Jesus means until he sends them forth to preach after his death and resurrection.
Rather than St. Valentine, a Roman martyr about whom little is definitely known, the Church today celebrates Saints Cyril and Methodius. These two brothers preached Jesus’ love and his call to people to serve one another in the Ukraine and Moravia. They were so diligent and successful that Pope St. John Paul II proclaimed them among the patrons of all Europe.