Wikipedia defines Ubuntu as a South African word meaning human kindness. In tribute to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Palmo posted on Dec. 5 a text of remarks that Pope John Paul II (also of sainted memory) spoke to Mandela and the people of South Africa during his visit there in 1995.
“South Africa refers to itself as a “Rainbow Nation,” indicating the diversity of races, ethnic groups, languages, culture and religions which characterize it,” the Pope said as quoted by Palmo. “And you have the extremely rich concept of UBUNTU to guide you, according to the saying that “People are made people through other people.” John Paul went on to honor Mandela’s government for striving to create a fairer and more prosperous society in which people of all faiths would work together and share together, keeping alive a “flame of hope.”
Fast-forward to Dec. 10, 2013, when the word Ubuntu and the teaching that “people are made people through other people” are top-of-mind as we watch news coverage memorializing Mandela. It is good that our Pope Francis today calls all Catholics worldwide to prayer and action against the scourge of hunger. See the Loggia’s blog report on this Caritas campaign, which likewise must endure a long time, keeping hope alive.
Palmo provides the prayer being circulated for the Dec. 10 global wave of prayer, appropriate for prayers of the present and future, reminding us always that “people are made people through other people.” Ubuntu is a rich concept. I think Pope Francis would see it reflected in his flock as we pray without ceasing this call for basic human kindness, for feeding our bodies and souls:
O God, you entrusted to us the fruits of all creation so that we might care for the earth and be nourished with its bounty.
You sent us your Son to share our very flesh and blood and to teach us your Law of Love.
Through His death and resurrection, we have been formed into one human family.
Jesus showed great concern for those who had no food – even transforming five loaves and two fish into a banquet that served five thousand and many more.
We come before you, O God, conscious of our faults and failures, but full of hope, to share food with all members in this global family.
Through your wisdom, inspire leaders of government and of business, as well as all the world’s citizens, to find just, and charitable solutions to end hunger by assuring that all people enjoy the right to food.
Thus we pray, O God, that when we present ourselves for Divine Judgment, we can proclaim ourselves as “One Human Family” with “Food for All”. Amen.