The challenge of Nelson Mandela

Today, at the age of 95, Nelson Mandela has passed to the Lord. May he rest in God’s peace.

When Mandela was released from prison he held no rancor or bitterness toward his jailors, February 11, 1990. On May 9, 1994, he took office as President of South Africa.

Two days after his release from prison he told his supporters:

“It is not the kings and generals that make history…. I have seen with my own eyes the masses of our people, the workers, the peasants, the doctors, the lawyers, the clergy, all our people. I have seen them making history and that is why all of us are here today.”

It is easy to make Nelson Mandela a hero in such a way that we dismiss our responsibility to struggle for justice.

It similar to Dorothy Day’s quip to not call her a saint since it makes it seem so impossible for us mere mortals.

Looking at our heroes should inspire us to stand up for justice, for the poor and the oppressed.

Looking at the saints should inspire us to seek to live each day as God’s daughters and sons.

We will almost certainly not make changes by grand scheming and tremendous deeds. But the persistent every-day acts of love and struggles for justice will help bring about a little of that Reign of justice, love, and peace which Nelson Mandela, Dorothy Day, and so many others sought.

The little deeds, done with an enlarged vision, are what the world needs from all of us.

Let us begin.

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