By Fr. Limukani Ndlovu, Archdiocese of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
In his strong and confrontational, somewhat rhetoric words, Jesus states that, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if salt has lost its savour, herewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5 Verses 13 to 20).
Take a step back and look at the world around you and in particular the political spectrum. It worries me upon hearing a politician blessing people with the words, “May God bless you, God bless this country …” While a blessing is not a preserve of the few consecrated individuals, it is worth noting that that anyone may give a sacramental blessing in the Christian sense, especially every baptized faithful who assumes the Three-fold mission of Christ right at baptism (CCC, 1267, 1268, 1546). My worry comes about when the blessing is immediately either preceded or succeeded by elements of blatant lies. In that case, I shudder that instead of using the name of God as holy, it however risks being abused or used with blasphemy. Politicians, despite their Christian religious background are leaders and servants who should assume the leadership of Christ himself and this is measured against their faithfulness to the norms and laws of their countries as well as in their quest to serve the common good (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church §12).
However, the moment politicians glorify the negative tendencies and behaviours associated with their political privileges, then there is a serious need for introspection and reconsideration about one’s role with respect of blessing. My humble submission is that there is need to consider whether to bless or to seek God’s mercy (Lk 18:13). While to be aware and acknowledge one’s weakness is itself a sign of holiness, dispensing divine blessings from a point of view of worthiness is also a sign of holiness. However, showing off or using the name of God in vain is sacrilegious and scandalous. “As soon as we lose our moral foundation, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. We cannot be untruthful and claim to have God on our side.”
The author of the above cited words was not a Christian. However, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a modern prophet popularly voted the most influential person of the 20th century. Leaders, right across the socio-political and religious spectrum should constantly examine their moral standing or else the words of Jesus, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast …” (Mk 9:42)
Once the salt loses its saltiness in the leadership arena in general, and in particular in public office, the noblest decision to take is to step aside and bear consequences of one’s actions or inactions as attested to by Thomas Bivins in his article entitled Responsibility and Accountability.