As a Christian, my faith plays an important role in all my life including my work in Parliament. Today is Maundy Thursday and my mind has turned to Easter. As we approached the Easter recess, MPs were debating the budget in Parliament and I couldn’t help but reflect on the huge compassion of God.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God had so much compassion for humanity that he became flesh and went voluntarily to his death, and death on a cross at that, to pay for the sins of humanity. That is, surely, the ultimate act of compassion and it makes me think about the compassion people deserve and need in our society today. Whether that’s parcels from foodbanks, clothes from churches, or food and warmth from night shelters, there’s a lot of compassion needed and visible in society today.
As a parliamentary aide, it makes me pause for thought and look at how we address those problems and care for the needs of those who cannot care for themselves. I look at the cross in awe, wonder at the compassion of God, and compare that to the compassion of men and women and, in particular, our current government.
Jesus taught us to
do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12).
Philosophers might call it the ethic of reciprocity and even people with no faith refer to this as the golden rule. To me, though, it forms the centre of my faith. Jesus taught, in Matthew 22, that
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It is the thought of this compassion to my neighbours around the country which motivates me to do my best to help them here in Parliament or campaigning around the country.
Another message of Easter is Hope. The resurrection and the forgiveness of sin fills Christians with hope. As Cardinal Hume said:
The great gift of Easter is hope – Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.
I constantly hope that I do the best I can for the MPs I support, for their constituents,and for the wider country. I hope that, as a Labour Party campaigner, I can help stem the tide of measures this conservative-led government is bringing forward which are creating unnecessary suffering and worry to the poorest in our society. I see groups organising against injustice and am hopeful for the future. I see NGOs fighting oppression, poverty, and hunger, and am hopeful for the future. I see my colleagues campaigning for equality of opportunity and am hopeful for the future.
The final thing that Easter brings to mind is transformation. It is the feast of transformation as death gave way to life for Jesus and also the time of year when other things transform. Dark nights become light. Cold winter gives way (we hope!) to warmer Spring. Death’s victory is removed in the seasonal burst of new life whether of fresh crocus’s bursting through or new lambs being born.
In Westminster, my mind turns to transformation of a different sort. I work hard to ensure the transformation of society for the better. I want to see a society where every baby born has the same opportunities, where every child gets an equal education, where patients in one part of the country get the same quality of treatment as those in another. A society where people are allowed to get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and where the government is investing in growth to create jobs for those that don’t have them. A society where the sick, disabled, unemployed, and poor are treated with respect and fairness. That really will take a huge transformation. But I look to the cross and am filled again with compassion and hope and know that transformation is possible.