Jesus said the most important law of the Bible was to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and the second was to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
He asked us to share with those who are in need and since the beginning of time, Samoan culture and traditions have been about giving out of love. Our taking of gifts to a faalavelave or funeral is not just a “sii” as we now often call it, but they are actually called “sii alofa” – something we now tend to forget as some take a sii and then watch to see what the family gives back in return.
Thirty years or so ago in a less developed Samoa, it was not uncommon to send your son or daughter next door during afternoon food preparation to ask for salt, sugar, or a missing ingredient you may not have had the time, or the money, to buy from the village shop.
“Tamoe atu i falē poo iai se latou masima sei tatou faaoga”.
But as time passed, we grew more prideful to ask our neighbours, and our children grew more embarrassed to run next door and ask, because we also grew less tolerant of our needy neighbours, and grew somewhat more judgmental.
“E toalua le ‘au faigaluega ae su’e mai lava lena masima! Ka ofo foi, ka fefē”.
There used to be a lot more sharing between neighbors in Samoa 30 years ago compared to life as we know it today. But there is also a flip side as the number of beggars walking the streets of Apia seems to grow. Some are genuine but many are not, as they make up stories of their sick children to get money from hard working shoppers, so the notion of kaufaavalea must also be treated with caution.
But what we do know is that when Jesus was asked, he responded that those with more than they need, should share with the less fortunate.
Jesus was clear on the subject of sharing and helping those in need, whatever their situation.
And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Luke10:11
We also see in Hebrews and 1Timothy the same messages of being willing to share.
Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
1 Timothy 6:18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.
There are families who still practice the lovely gesture of sending food around to their neighbours during Sunday toanai, because we always tend to have more than enough for that traditional once-a-week feast meal. But it is a dying culture.
In today’s continued economic hardships with border closures and lockdowns, I guess we can all ask ourselves, Is there someone God wants me to bless this week? Is there a way I can spread the love and share with my neighbours? Is there someone I can walk up to this week and ask, How can I help?”.
Blessed Sunday Samoa.