A summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord
- My Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
- We are again privileged with the Season of Lent; a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian faith. This period of time offers us an occasion to rediscover our reality as sinners and appreciate the mercy and love of God.
- Our Lenten Season this year is being held against the background of the Year of the Faith. The Year of Faith is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world. In His death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 5:31). And this love ushers us into a new life as: “We were buried…with Him by baptism into His death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).
- This season calls upon each one of us to a deeper understanding of our faith and subsequently to share it with gladness of heart without any attenuation (Mt. 5:17-19). Faith cannot be established by resolutions but received as a gift of God. Therefore, our role this season is to witness to the faith that has been revealed and handed on unto us as unchanging doctrine (Tit. 1: 9). And this should remind us where the faith comes from, and teach us that we are not greater than our Fathers, but only hand on what we ourselves have received.
- The Holy Father, Benedict XVI is passionate on the need to rediscover the journey of faith. He says that: “the Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.” Here, in no uncertain terms, the Holy Father invites us to return to the foundations of our faith. This is no other than the Word – the Word that became man and made His dwelling among us (Jn. 1:14).
- And when we consider the whole history of salvation, we come to appreciate that it progressively demonstrates the profound bond between the Word of God and the faith which arise from an encounter with Christ. Faith takes shape as an encounter with the person to whom we entrust ourselves, namely Jesus Christ.
- And going through the New Testament and especially in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 22: 1 – 20); we see the story of Saul thereafter called Paul, a man who totally opposed and persecuted the Way, and how he was struck by the light of Christ to become an ardent proponent of the Way. The story of Paul is an account of his journey of faith: from being an adversary to a supporter; from being an opponent to an ally; and from being a persecutor to become a defender and a Martyr of the Way.
- Paul’s conversion and his subsequent mission made him become the most travelled preacher, the most eloquent speaker (Eph. 3: 7–12) and the most elaborate author of the New Testament. Paul is an example of what God is able to do in our lives: to turn our weakness into His strength; our inadequacy into His sufficiency; our inability into His power, our disrepute into His honour. And Paul says: “His grace is sufficient for us, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor. 12: 9). Further he says, “It is in our weakness that we are strong” (2Cor. 12:10). Because in our weakness we learn to turn to God and to totally depend on His power.
- The humanity of Paul that comes out so forcefully in the ambiguity of his personality as well as the vulnerability of his life can help us to appreciate more of our human fragility and frailty, and especially in our call to holiness. We ought to learn from Paul to depend on God if we will have to cope with our own short comings. It is by God’s forgiveness and His grace that we are forgiven and sustained on our journey towards Him, the Author and Consummation of our life. On our own we can do nothing. Even power, ideas, material and intellectual possessions etc. cannot help – only God can help. With the humility of Paul, we come to learn to turn to God and to totally depend on Him.
- Profession of faith in Christ is followed naturally by an account of sacramental life in which Christ is present, operative and continues to build His Church, without which the profession of our faith would be a mere propaganda. Precisely because it would lack the grace which supports Christian faith. In Baptism we are born to new life; in the Eucharist we are nourished and sustained in our faith; in Confirmation we are affirmed and sealed in our faith; in Penance we are reconciled with God, with neighbour and nature, and; in the priesthood, Christ the high priest remains perpetually effective and operative among us. In matrimony, spouses are united in love for ever and; in the sacrament of the sick, the Church supports the sick in their struggle against illness and continues Christ’s messianic work of healing.
- Therefore liturgy is the heart and source of our Christian way of life. It is the summit of our orientation which provides us with a decisive gaze on God, without which everything is disoriented. Liturgy as it were proceeds not from a private person but rather from an existence that has surrendered itself to the Church so that in the Church and through the Church, God has His pre-existing centre.
- May the renewal of our faith be sustained by our fervent prayers, by our honest desired fasting and coupled with our desire to share in solidarity with those in need. May Mary, the Mother of the Risen Lord, intercede for us. And, I impart my Apostolic Blessing on all of you and those you will share this Lenten Message with.
- Given this at Ndola, Cathedral of Christ the King, this 13th day of February in the Year of our Lord, 2013.
+Dr. Alick Banda
Bishop of Ndola