A call to repentance, renewal and change.

Greetings for a happy Advent season. We are once again graced with this season; an occasion of preparation for the celebration of the love of God which is manifested in the gift of His only begotten Son, through whom we have been offered access to the heavenly kingdom (Col. 1:13-14).

We begin this period of waiting, immediately after the closure of the Extra-Ordinary Year of Mercy – a Year in which we experienced the great love of God’s mercy in concrete forms, both on a personal and communal level. On a personal level, we experienced God’s merciful love and forgiveness for our shortcomings and sinfulness and this led us to extend the same gesture of God’s merciful love and forgiveness to others, a fruit of the spirit, a fruit of God’s forgiveness.

On a communal level, we experienced as a nation, God’s merciful love with good rainfall despite all odds and; a generally peaceful transition from elections to the inauguration of the Head of State, for which we are greatly indebted to God.

Much as we thank God for these blessings, both at a personal and communal level, we should not be contented, but strive to do more in the deepening of our faith, in the planning for our future and in the putting up measures that should deter trends of unruly behaviour and violence in our country especially towards elections. We cannot close our eyes to the sad events that led to the 2016 Elections and the aftermath, – as if they were virtues.  Sadly, these events have polarised our nation.  Instead of emerging as a united people of cultural diversity and ethnicity and an emerging democracy of different political persuasions, we have become more divided on tribal and political lines.  Worst still is the wasting away of objectivity and civility in addressing some of the challenges of our society.

The appointment of a commission of inquiry to examine causes of political violence could not have come at any better time than now to give the nation documented proof of root causes of political violence. Of course it remains incumbent that the findings will be acted upon expediently and with impartiality, otherwise the whole process would be deemed an academic exercise, good for the archives.

As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Lord, let us all take a moment of introspection, because at the close of our lives, when all is said and done, no matter what we would have become, or achieved, the quality of our life will come down to the quality of our contribution to others, namely, whether we made their life better. And Christ puts it categorically that, “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers (and sisters) you did it unto me” (Mt. 25:40).  And similarly, a Chinese proverb says: “A little bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses”.  Meaning that, when we work to improving the lives of others, we indirectly elevate our own life in the process.  Therefore, when we undertake to practice acts of mercy, i.e. spiritual and corporal – we start to look beyond ourselves, beyond the “I”, “Me”, and “Myself”.  It is in this moment that we become sensible, realistic and reasonable to the needs of others, and especially the poor.

God become man and dwelt amongst us (Immanuel), so as to share in our humanity and to liberate us from all that enslaves us, like: selfishness, greed, jealousy, envy, distrust, falsehood and manipulation of information to suit our personal agenda. In His incarnation, God offers us an opportunity to reflect deeply on our call and duty towards one another and towards God.  We are made in His image and likeness ordained to love and to care of each other.  However, the heightening of hatred towards others and espoused with hateful speech with intent to demonize and frustrate others with the commonly acronym PhD (Pull him/her Down); the ever increasing gender based violence which has now culminated not only into the abuse of the weak and minors but also in the loss of lives; and the endemic corruption which has given rise to expensive but mediocre services while culprits go scot free.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord, who dwelt amongst us, let us equally prepare ourselves to celebrate our faith deepened in the love for Jesus Christ who came to serve and not to be served. Let us celebrate our faith lived in sincerity with one another and especially with those entrusted to our care.  And let us witness to our faith with reverence and dignity by making the truth and beauty of the gospel shine out in our lives without compromising it to the demands of popularity.

Scriptures has it that: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15). In this season of advent we are called to repentance, to a change of heart, and to a renewed way of life.  May this season be a fruit of our personal journey in the encounter of the living God who comes to meet us and who awaits at each and every one of us.  May Mary, the Mother of God, intercede for us.

Given this at Ndola, Cathedral of Christ the King, this 20th day of November, on the Feast of Christ the King, in the Year of our Lord, 2016, and Ninth Year of our Episcopate.

+Dr. Alick Banda

Bishop of Ndola Diocese