“Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die. “, are Romeo’s romantic last words after he poisoned himself. Romeo thought his beloved Juliet was dead and he could not imagine living on without her. Shortly after Juliet enters the stage and is equally dismayed. She tries to lick some poison of Romeo’s lips but it wasn’t enough to kill her. So she stabs herself with his dagger. What a deadly passion! William Shakespeare knew that love can be brutal. He was part of a long and proud tradition that understands that passion leads to the cross, that dedication can get you killed.
This week is Valentine’s day and usually this day is celebrated with flowers and chocolates. I am a really big fan of chocolate covered strawberries – very festive, very sweet, very loving. But amidst all that sweetness, the bitterness of the day usually gets overlooked. Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine. Not much is known about his life and ministry but he is known for his passion. Valentine was a Christian martyr of the 3rd century. The Roman Empire cracked down on the early Christian church and killed great numbers of them. Valentine passionately refused to give up his faith and was consequently beheaded. Romeo died for Juliet, Juliet died for Romeo, Valentine died for Jesus, Jesus died for all of us. So much death, so much love, so much passion. The symbols for February 14th are neither dagger, nor poison, nor cross nor an ax to chop off heads. But amidst all the romantic sugary sweetness, St. Valentine’s raises inconvenient questions like: What are you passionate about? What are you willing to die for?