We South Africans like to say “Eish!” when we feel baffled, frustrated, hopeless or helpless.  In fact whenever we don’t know what to do as is clearly the case in the current political impasse.  We could throw up our hands or just shake our heads and say “Eish!”  Or wonder deep inside ourselves where ubuntu has gone or, if you are an informed Catholic thinker, “what has happened to the principle of the common good?”

There is a lot of depth in that principle of Catholic Social Teaching that can be very applicable to the upcoming season of Lent.  It is not only about justice but very much too about love.  These can all be combined in MARFAM’S theme, “Ubuntu – Families do Matter” with its February subtheme “Love does Matter.”   It isn’t only what we do but why we do it that matters.  And that is the hard part.  Is my Act of Love and Sacrifice for God, my neighbour, society, the environment or my own good, after all I am also part of the “common good?’  That may sound self-centred but when considered in the context of relationships of true love I am called to be self-giving but also to receive the love I need to grow.  As in the reflection of 5 February.  An older couple took up ballroom dancing.  Why?  Because the wife was feeling unloved. “He never touches me at all,” she said, “and I need that, just to be held close as we do in our dancing class. The instructor would say, ‘Now put your arm around her, hold her close, swing her about and move in time with each other.’  What a joy that has been for me,” she smiled, thinking,  ‘Isn’t that healing ministry too?’  Mark’s gospel 6:56. Wherever he came in villages, cities or country they laid the sick in the market places and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment and as many as touched it were made well.

Pope Francis:  Day after day touched by God’s compassion we also can become compassionate towards others.  Misericordia Vultus 14.

We can smile and say, “Eish, isn’t that a nice story about the old couple,” but let that be a challenge for the weeks ahead.  The common good matters best when love matters at any level.

LENTEN ACTS OF LOVE AND SACRIFICE.   Here are some things you can choose to do each day during Lent alone or with your family to practise the attitude and actions of ubuntu.

  1. BE conscious of God in a stranger.
  2. BE a good neighbour helping when needed.
  3. BE a peacemaker or a peacekeeper
  4. BE generous with someone in need.
  5. BE patient with an old person or a child
  6. BE willing to forgive even when it hurts to do so.
  7. BE honest in what you say and do.
  8. BE present with someone who is lonely.
  9. BE polite to everyone, even people you don’t like.
  10. BE prayerful with Jesus at home or in church.
  11. BE punctual and not make other people late or wait.  
  12. BE merciful when someone has wronged you.
  13. BE willing to share your belongings in the family.
  14. BE just in your behaviour towards others.
  15. BE caring by giving food and drink to a hungry person.
  16. Don’t BE rude or cheeky to a parent or other adult.
  17. 17.Don’t BE a bully to someone smaller than you.
  18. Don’t BE greedy when others are hungry.
  19. Don’t BE a thief, taking things that do not belong to you.
  20. Don’t BE dishonest in thought, word or deed.
  21. Don’t BE angry or sulk.
  22. Don’t BE self-centred and refuse to help others.
  23. Don’t BE a substance abuser.
  24. Don’t BE ungrateful for what you have received.
  25. Don’t BE unforgiving.

So we can prepare for Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day in the Spirit of Ubuntu with acts of love and sacrifice and why not add the good old family tradition of Pancake Tuesday for some family fun.   TR Family Weekly 7 February.

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