Nelson Mandela got it.
He got it about humanity. He got it about love. He got it about forgiveness. He got it about relationships. He got it about being a servant. He got it about grace.
That's why he was one of the most admired and loved statesmen in history — a combination Lincoln, Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
One of his closest friends became his jailer of three decades, a person from the political party that stood for apartheid and was responsible for his imprisonment.
Several people I know, including my son, have been to South Africa and have seen firsthand the effects Mandela, who died Thursday, had on that country and the world.
Many of his sayings are pregnant with wisdom:
"If people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love."
"I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying."
"I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."
"Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
"Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."
"Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."
"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."
During this season, I'm reminded of the words from "O Holy Night:" It's the ideal of humanity and the foundation of the Advent season:
"Truly He taught us to love one another;His law is love and His gospel is peace.Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;And in His name all oppression shall cease."
Yeh. Mandela got it.