On a wall in our study hangs the Hockly family crest. The motto assigned to the crest is Omnia Vincit Amor. This Latin phrase is commonly translated into English as, “Love Conquers All”. The family crest dates back to Saxon Britain. Even then the motto was not novel. The Roman poet Virgil is credited as having first penned this phrase.
Recently I questioned as to what is the principle behind this phrase adopted by my ancestors over one millennium ago. Surely the motto on our crest implies some noble thought or wisdom learnt by the family over the ages.
Initially I inquired as to what is love in the context. My first reference point was my Collins dictionary. It gave 15 definitions of this verb. Yet each felt inadequate in the context of the motto. None of the definitions gave any indication of the ability to conquer.
I knew that the Bible expressed many imperatives on the topic of love. In I Corinthians 13:4-8 Paul describes love as, and I quote from the New International Version, “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”. Failure being the antithesis of conquer. I was now on the right track. In Paul’s letter to Romans 12: 9-21 he gives practical examples of love, some of which I will set out later in this article.
What does “all” encompass? It is derived from the Old English word “eall”, meaning totality or whole. I concluded that if this phrase was true, then love could conquer anything.
Now for the application. What needs conquering? On a societal basis what needs fixing in our local community and in our nation?
In a recent New Zealand Herald sponsored survey 64% of people polled were of the opinion that New Zealand has become more divided over the past few years. For the second question amongst other aspects 72% of those polled believed that the current distribution of wealth and access to housing has pushed us apart as a society. We are all conscious of rising rates of serious crime against persons and rising rates of poverty. Our local and central government and their ministries and executives are struggling to solve these issues. As members of our society we must take responsibility to work towards reversing these trends, for the sake of ourselves and our descendants.
I believe we must take the lead by being intentional with our attitudes and actions towards other members of our society. Our attitudes and actions should be through the matrix of love as described in the letter to Corinthians. In Romans Paul exhorts us amongst other things to honour one another above ourselves and to live in harmony with each other. Surely if each of us expressed love as described by Paul we as a nation would be united. Many of our societal ills would be minimised. New Zealand would be a better place in which to live. Do you desire such an outcome? If so, then start reflecting on these descriptions of love. Then look to where you can apply love towards other members of your community. I believe our actions and attitudes will successfully change our society for good. By our love we will conquer the societal ills in our community. Are you ready to conquer?
As we draw close to celebrating Christmas we should reflect on the act of another conqueror. The God of creation had given mankind a freedom of choice. To do right or to do wrong. Mankind chose the latter. God had a plan to redeem his creation. As a consequence of his love for mankind he sent his son Christ to save the world. It is Christ’s birth that we celebrate at Christmas. In his adulthood Christ took responsibility for all the things we do that displease our creator, often referred to as sin. Christ allowed himself to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. It was through Christ giving up his life for others, often described as the ultimate act of love, that we are entitled to a renewed and fulfilling relationship with God. Reflecting on the birth of Christ should provide us with joy and hope. Christ is a conqueror. Christ’s life is the ultimate example of Omnia Vincit Amor.
On behalf of the team at Gaze Burt I wish you a refreshing time over the Christmas/New Year period and a fulfilling 2023.
Michael Hockly, Chairman