Thought for the weekend: We must put other people first
Today, we live in an unusually troubled world. Can we be helped in finding a secure way through? There is the tragic situation of more than a million refugees on the move into Europe. Many are fleeing the war in Syria, many others fleeing war in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq and Libya.
This immense demographic change has caught the countries of Europe by surprise to the point that there is no common response. For example, Germany will welcome some million refugees in 2015 while Hungary has closed its borders. Then, what about the millions of refugees already in camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey? When and where will they be given asylum?
On a different scale of human need altogether, there is the ludicrous charade of so-called politics at Stormont. Here in Northern Ireland, we have an affluent and advanced modern democratic society. Our problem is that our nationalist and unionist politicians cannot get along together. I am sure that, if the refugees on those perilous, overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean could see what is happening in Stormont, they would be incredulous at the way our political culture has become warped, introverted and self-interested.
Our politicians at Stormont should be working together on all sides to relieve suffering, and to prioritise the duty of care for all people. The political culture should be characterised by the commitment to help those suffering - those on shockingly long waiting lists for our hospitals, and those cast adrift on the Mediterranean, not knowing if they will see tomorrow.
Tomorrow, in places of worship around the world, people will hear some words of Jesus. Jesus had just arrived with his 12 Apostles at his house in Capernaum. He asked them what they had been talking about on the way. They were arguing about who among them was the greatest. Jesus said: "He who would be greatest among you must be your servant, and he who would be first among you must be slave of all."
This teaching of Jesus applies equally at Stormont and in Europe today as it did 2,000 years ago. All of us are called to live the life of a servant to our fellow human beings. Jesus tells us other people come first - not ourselves! Jesus came 'not to be served, but to serve'. We are called to do likewise.