By Lara Pickford-Gordon firstname.lastname@example.org
To live according to the image and likeness of God must be extended to all especially the most fragile who are in need of attention. “God wants everybody in the society to have His care and those that are most fragile, those that for one reason or another become the more needy are those that have greater need for attention and God has a special love for them,” Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu said at his first Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) rally held at the Centre of Excellence, Tunapuna last Sunday. Theme of the 43rd annual rally was A Call to Love (Deut 15:11; Mt 26:11).
The nuncio’s feature address on ‘A Call to love the Poor’ centred on God’s “original plan” in the Book of Genesis 1:26–27, when man was made in the image and likeness of God.
Archbishop Nwachukwu said to be like God means doing what God does, loving what God loves and avoiding what God does not like. He noted the highest love, according to the people of God of the old covenant, was to love your neighbour as yourself. Jesus however, “takes it to a new level” when he told the apostles, in John 13:34 and 15:12, to love one another as He loved them.
On the call to love the poor, Archbishop Nwachukwu focused on Deuteronomy 15:11— there will always be poor—and verse four— there will be no more poor.
Although the verses appear contradictory, he said the Bible is not contradicting itself. He told the large audience gathered the verses taken together point out, although there are the poor and disadvantaged, love should be strong enough that they do not feel poor because someone provided food or a place to stay.
“The case for the poor according to this text, Deuteronomy 15, is not telling simply about love. It is not a chapter on love; it is a chapter on justice. So taking care of the poor is something of justice, of being just,” Archbishop Nwachukwu said. He added, “Justice of the Bible is the justice of doing things rightly; that’s why it’s called righteousness….if you don’t know how to give, how can you be like God?”
Archbishop Nwachukwu dispelled the notion “God loves poverty” stating God wants everyone to be rich, however, in some having more and others less, He offers an opportunity to participate in the work of divine sharing. “If you want to participate in the act of God then make sure there is a constant flow of goodness in society.”
Poverty is not just about lacking money; it can also be the “absence of that which we long to have”, such as lack of health or a spouse who has died. He said this is why widows, orphans and the poor are mentioned together because they are people who lack something or someone. Archbishop Nwachukwu cited 1 Samuel where Hannah prays to God for a child. She later had Samuel.
Act of sacrifice
Archbishop Nwachukwu cautioned persons in bad situations having a lazy attitude and resigning themselves to thinking God wants them to be like this. “Do your part!” he stressed. He quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “We gave you a rule when we were with you: not to let anyone have any food if he refused to work.” This verse is not condoning laziness or telling people they should not help the poor. He said, “Do your part and allow God to do His part”.
Archbishop Nwachukwu said, “Helping the poor means giving that person the possibility that was lacking.” He gave examples of giving food to the person who is hungry or drink to the person dying of thirst. Persons who seek to imitate the image and likeness of God cannot discriminate.
What about persons who say they do not have enough to help the poor? Archbishop Nwachukwu responded that loving like Jesus then becomes a challenge as Romans 5:8 states the proof that God’s love was in Jesus, His only Son, dying for sinners.
“He wants to tell us that loving the poor is not the thing of pleasure; my charity is not when it is pleasing to me. Sometimes it has to be an act of will, an act of sacrifice. It was not easy for Jesus to die for us.”
The love of Jesus is the love of the cross, arms outstretched. The archbishop said the true Christian love is an embrace, a risky love where the heart is exposed without defence.
The rally began with recitation of the rosary from 6.45 a.m. and praise, worship, and prophecy led by the National Music Ministry. Deborah de Rosia delivered the welcome and Fr Jason Boatswain, gave the second talk after the break on ‘A call to love one another’. Archbishop Jason Gordon celebrated the closing Mass.