The Courage to Change

  1. Venerable brothers in the Priesthood, my dear Deacons, beloved Religious Men and Women, my treasured Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
  1. Once again, we are privileged with the Advent Season, a period of waiting and an occasion of preparation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Advent Season this year is being held against the background of the “Year of Faith”. The Year of Faith in which the Church calls us to confidently entrust ourselves to God, the God who cares – the God who loves us without limitation despite our own wickedness and evil. Because, God is capable of transforming every kind of our slavery and giving us the possibility of salvation”.[1]
  1. In view of the Year of Faith, it becomes our common task during this period and beyond to make the truth and beauty of our faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past. Because, the eternal presence of God resounds in faith, it surpasses time, and yet it can only be welcomed by us in our unrepeatable today. It goes without saying that the trends of the moment, of the modern world cannot be the guide of our Faith, save for Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one Saviour yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13: 8). Thus the principle holds true that “ethos without logos cannot endure”. And the old axiom is right when it says that: Marry the spirit of the day and you are a widow of tomorrow.[2]
  1. The Year of Faith provides us with a moment of grace, a greater opportunity to announce the Gospel once again without sacrificing faith to the expedience of social activity or social entertainment. Thus this calls for more investment in the study of Scripture, the revival of Catechesis, the correct celebration of the Liturgy and attending to one another in charity. It becomes, therefore, our responsibility to immerse ourselves anew in the Christian mystery so as to be renewed in this faith and to announce it effectively and profoundly to our brothers and sisters, today.[3]
  1. The prophet Isaiah, accords us the vision of the messianic age when the shoot of David the Redeemer, will come (Is. 11: 6-9). The time of the Messiah is depicted as a return of Paradise, where peace reigns. And the redeemed people will be a people of peace and no longer act in an evil or malicious way because the land is filled with the knowledge of God, which covers the earth as water does. However, the world has remained a place of strife where there is no peace, a world that lives from conflict of men with each other, a world branded by the law of malice, of enmity, and of selfishness; a world in which the knowledge of God does not cover the land like water but lives in a state of being far from God, of having God blocked out.[4]
  1. This season as it were calls for the audacity to change. On one of the bill boards on the streets is a caption which reads, “We never stop learning”. Life and learning are inseparable. And the same holds true for learning and change. Every new experience, positive or negative, bears a new lesson for each and every one of us, and we either accept it or ignore it. Acceptance in this regard means modification of the preceding state and ideas hence change. And this is the logic of growth. Whereas disregard means stagnation and continuation in our old habits of living and doing things.
  1. It is true that past experiences usually cling persistently to and clog the mind and character of a person. And at times, it takes time and often a lot of courage to free from the past. And Robin Sharma in his bestselling Book, “The Monk that Sold a Ferrari”, articulates this point that, “You sow a thought, and you reap an action. Reap an action, you sow a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap a destiny”.[5]
  1. Ours is a world of change, and one of the few constants of human nature is change. Ancient Greek philosophers taught that in nature only one is the unmoved – God, who moves all things. God moves all creation by attraction, since He is love and love attracts. So when we claim not to move, we either pretend to be God or we put ourselves in opposition to His loving force. Life is a process of gaining more or losing more and that nothing in life stands still.[6]
  1. For a human person, to live a positive change often implies resisting the common or normal tendency, and to swim or paddle one’s canoe row against the current. This usually requires a will and decision, perseverance and courage. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI articulates this courage as “the refusal to bow to the dictates of popular opinion but rather to act on the basis of what one inwardly knows is right”.[7] This is true of our faith which is: OneHolyCatholic and Apostolic. This knowledge vis-à-vis truth presupposes listening to the word of God which is accepted in faith, and practiced in communion with the whole Church, and as taught by the authentic Magisterium of the Church.
  1. God is the origin from which we come and yet still also the future toward which we are going. Therefore, God cannot be found except by going to meet Him as the One who is coming, who is waiting for us to make a start and demanding that we do so. We cannot find God except in the exodus, in going out from the coziness of our present situation into what is hidden: the brightness of God who is coming.[8] The image of Moses, who had to climb up the mountain and go into the cloud to find God, remains valid for all ages (Exodus chapter 19 through to chapter-24). God cannot be found except by climbing the mountain and entering into the cloud of the incognito God, who in this world, is the hidden One.
  1. Mark’s gospel passage sums up Christ’s call to change as: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). Behind this saying lies the whole history of Israel and of our own history. Indeed it is a call to repentance, a call to change, a call to renewal. May this season be a fruit of our personal exodus to encounter the living God who comes to meet us and who awaits each and every one of us. May Mary, the Mother of God, intercede for us. And, I impart my Apostolic Blessing on all of you and those you will share this Advent Message with.
  1. Given this at Ndola, Cathedral of Christ the King, this 26th day of November in the Year of our Lord, 2012.

+Dr. Alick Banda

Bishop of Ndola

[1] Cf. Alick Banda, Homily on the Feast of Christ the King, Ndola, 25th November, 2012, Nr.8.

[2] Cf. Alick Banda, Homily during the Inauguration of the Year of Faith, Cathedral of Christ the King, Ndola, 27th October,  2012, Nr. 3.

[3] Cf. Ibid., Nr. 4.

[4] Cf. Benedict XVI, What it means to be a Christian, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2006, p. 23.

[5] Cf. R. Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Jaico Publication House, Mumbai, 2011, p.133.

[6] Cf. F. A. Nwachukwu, The Courage to Change, Paulines Publications, Nairobi, 2003, p. 13.

[7] Cf. Benedict XVI, Light of the World, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2010, p. 85.

[8] Cf. Benedict XVI, What it means to be Christian, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2006, p. 37.