Rev. Paul Mathole
Good Morning. Valentine's day is a day that has accrued many layers of association: of affection, of romance, of sentiment, of celebration and perhaps some too of consumerism.It isn’t often that we compare Mr. Darcy to Christ, but what strikes me is that this unconditional, undemanding, love resonates strongly with the portrayal of Jesus' love. Jesus’ sacrificial death is selfless and for the good of humanity. And as he lays down his life it is not premised on him receiving approval or even much thankfulness. In fact, as he walked the path to Calvary, the rejection of him was near total. And yet this is how he ‘so loved the world’.
This Valentine's day comes very soon after the recent 200th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice -- the story of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Their initial mutual disdain and dislike thawing into a warm and true affection. Since its publication two centuries ago, it has been read and reread, recast on television and cinema screens. Many have become iconic depictions of what we imagine a true love story to be.
What has often struck me is how Austen's story hinges upon an act of selfless love. Mr Darcy rescues Elizabeth's sister and saves her family from disgrace. But he does so in secret; Elizabeth is unaware of what he has done for her family. His desire is to do Elizabeth good. It is a desire so genuine that, at that point, it is not conditional upon what he might get in return. Indeed, he knows it may come in the face of her ongoing rejection.
Loving God, may our love for one another increasingly have the quality of Jesus’ love. Make us selfless, unconditional. May we freely love others because you first loved us and laid down your life for us. Amen.