Love and compassion – the mortar we need for building the nation

IF there is a God He must be infinitely rich. His wealth will never run out. Perhaps that is the reason why he is a Creator who just loves giving, of His wealth, that is of Himself, and of everything He is able to fashion, to make, to fill with life which is what he breathes into us his creatures.

Guest Column: Fr Oskar Wermter sj

That is why he creates: he wants to share with us what He is and what is His. That is why he creates and keeps filling with life heaven and earth, the whole universe and all that is found within it, primarily living beings, human beings and animals, plants and fish, birds and reptiles, cattle and horses, cats and dogs, ants and elephants.

Human beings — that is a rather abstract term. Let us talk about women and men. Women and men are equal, but different. Equal in dignity and in their humanity, different in their gifts and talents, beauty, looks and attraction.

They have inherited a gift from the Creator. They can give life, too. But they play different roles in their common task. They are not exactly divine beings able to create life, but they are co-creators, sharing life, the same life, and giving it equally to sons and daughters.

We have been created, given life “in the image of God” (Genesis 1: 27). Just imagine the infinite number of “images of God” that populate this earth. And they are all human, and yet all different. God is one, and at the same time the source and origin of this infinite variety.

The creative God who gives lavishly and expects us to give and share is the “God who is Love” (1 John 4: 8).

Therefore, we are created for love, who share life as lovers, as parents, as artists, writers, as worshippers in adoration, as hearers of the Word that is the Creator’s message.

It is a common idea, underlying much of our life philosophy, that this world is driven by self-interest, and the desire for accumulation of riches, wealth and power, in the struggle for survival, as we observe in our political society.

The Gospel of Christ, the foundation of Christian society and community life, is based, not on taking and winning, but on sharing and giving, in short: on love. This is not a romantic idea for lovers and the married only. It is solid truth. It is demonstrated by the image of the cross and Christ’s giving his very self.

The universe is driven in its very existence by love. Any community rests on the foundation of love. That includes the political community, the society we have created and established in our midst. Our society is not created and driven by mere self-love and self-centred ambitions.

Working for the common good of society, the nation, community and family – that is our life.

We have been created “in the image of God”. We are meant to live, act, think and speak like our maker. We are meant to love since our origin is in a loving Lord and Creator who cannot but give life out of love. He is also our final destination.

Christian thinkers try to have a common idea and image of God which they share with other believers. For example: we do not reject the God of the Shona and Ndebele people, but see him in the high God of the Bantu people (Shona and Ndebele: “Mwari” and “Unkulunkulu”/Nkosi), as an equivalent of the concept of God in the Judaeo-Christian tradition , visible in the face of Christ.

Even people very secular in their thinking and spirituality know that when we think of “God”, we see his face in the man from Nazareth.

The conviction that our “God is love” makes an enormous difference on how we see ourselves, all history and indeed the universe. It gives us a different view of our society and our social and political life.

With apologies to agnostics and indeed atheists, we could write the word “God is love” on the wall of every Parliament or town council as a constant reminder that this message is like a Constitution, or a fundamental law of our society (I have been told, though, that in Africa we have no atheists, Africans being deeply religious and spiritual people…..).

Africa also teaches us that our first love is that of family and community, more than self-love or love of individuals. (Which is why tribalism and ethnicism is really a foreign body in our life philosophy). Our concept of brotherhood is not selective, but all-embracing. Love is considered the foundational principle of all society and communities everywhere. Our attitude to strangers and visitors and guests is one of welcome (and not xenophobia!).

“Now you are talking politics!” some of my readers my think or even say. “So what?”is my response. Talking politics is no more than taking a lively interest in our communities, our common welfare, or our common good as centre point of our social and economic life. Let us talk politics because we care and are concerned about our social (family) life and all families, which are like bricks building up the body of the nation.

“Love does not come to an end” (1 Cor. 13: 8). Our God does not come to an end giving love. He will enjoy sharing his riches forever. He wants us to be as much in love with love as He is himself.

And we dare to say this, even when we are overfed with the sad, outrageous daily news of wars and violence, blood and hatred and cruelty. Where is the never-ending love?

“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9: 7). He is a cheerful giver himself, (just look at the infinite variety of creatures that have come from his hands !) and we are made “in his image”. We are meant to care for these creatures and keep them in being and protect one another’s life. This world was definitely not created as an unending battle ground for blood to keep flowing.

This world is a garden of life for us to harvest a rich crop of fruits. This garden is meant for all, for our “common good” and for us enjoying this life in peace with arms silenced and troops back in the barracks.

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