“When the son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8)
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
- On 30th November 2014 the Church will once again begin the Liturgical Season of Advent which is going to usher us into a new Liturgical Year 2014-2015. The upcoming liturgical year is of particular importance to us in Ndola Diocese because it is a year during which we are going to celebrate the closure of the Year of Evangelization on 27th June 2015 and also assist in the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on the Family in October 2015.
- In my introduction to our local Liturgical Calendar (“ORDO” 2014-2015), I alluded to the fact that at the last AMECEA Plenary in Lilongwe, Malawi, we Bishops directed our efforts and attention on the family, especially in view of the challenges the family is facing1. Therefore, during this Advent season I would like to invite you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to focus our meditations and prayers on how best we are going to reevangelize our families in the diocese in order to make them effective environments for the transmission of the Christian faith to the children as well as efficient instruments for the propagation of the same faith in our respective milieus.
- “When the son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8). With these words Jesus concluded the parable of the persistent widow while encouraging his disciples to pray always and never to give up. This passage of the Gospel came immediately to my mind as I was reflecting on how rapidly social and cultural trends hostile to the Christian Faith seem to have proliferated in the past few decades of our Church history in Zambia. Anxiety has risen, tumult has increased, nerves have frayed, society itself is shaken to the core, troubles have mounted, and it seems as if the world itself is spinning out of control. One would wonder what should be done to hold on to the Christian faith!
- Due to the worldwide fast spreading processes of de-Christianization sustained by secularization and materialism some of our Christian faithful have lost their faith in God. While some are more concerned about making sure they do not lose what they have on this earth than to allow God take a lead in their personal lives and that of their families, others are preoccupied with accommodating modern ideologies on life, marriage and the family. This has led to a generalized crisis of faith. Some of our faithful do not get involved in aggressively reaching out to the lost, hurt and scattered “sheep” because either they have lost their faith or they have not been sufficiently initiated in the Christian faith.
- If we were to paraphrase the question of Jesus we would say: “When the Son of Man comes back, will he find Christians that are putting their trust in God and His Word? Or will he find Christians that have compromised and are relying on the world systems to meet their needs and fulfill their desires?” We ought to thoroughly analyze the prevailing situation of our personal lives and that of our families in relation to our involvement in transmitting and propagating the Christian faith to the generations coming after us: Cases of gender based violence and child sexual abuse have become the most common stories in the media; while marriages are becoming more and more unstable. The youths, on the other hand, are not showing interest in establishing lasting marriage bonds earlier. Single parenthood is on the rise; free unions are frequent; cohabitations with or without intention to marry are becoming a common trend. Poverty on the other hand is driving many children of school-going age out of school end up on the streets. Early marriages and situations of divorced and remarried couples remain prevalent.
- All this justifies the urgency for a New Evangelization in which every Christian faithful is expected to play an active role. The lack of faith Jesus talked about in the parable narrated in the Gospel of St. Luke 18:1-8, is the one motivated by fear; that is, the lack of trust that God really cares about us, individually and collectively, and will take care of us and our needs if we decide to walk with him and let Him have His way into our lives. Indeed there is urgency to reconstitute a society that is God centered.
- This year of Evangelization is, therefore, an opportunity for all of us to renew our baptismal commitment of being witnesses to the faith we profess. In order to achieve this, we need to remodel the nucleus of every human society; that is, the family, in order to make it an effective instrument of evangelization. We are all called to be “the salt of the earth…” and “the light of the world” (Mt 5:13-16).
- We often miss Advent’s power because this period is usually full of preparations for secular Christmas parties. Each year, the businesses around us serve to distract us from having an Advent season that truly prepares us for the celebration of the coming of the Lord, with its full meaning. However, my humble prayer for all of you is that this Advent season might be a period of constant prayer and reflection after the example of the persistent widow of the gospel. The point Jesus was making in the passage was that if we would expect a sinful man to grant us the justice due us just because it’s in his power to give, then shouldn’t we be confident that God, the righteous Judge, will bring justice for those who are His…and in good time?
- During this season of expectation let us prepare to welcome Christ Jesus into the bustle of our lives. Let us prepare to welcome Christ Jesus into our homes and situations of our society. Let us prepare to welcome Christ Jesus into our hearts, and those often hidden parts of our lives.
- May the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and the Child Jesus protect our families now and forever
+Dr. Alick Banda
Bishop of Ndola