Archbishop Banda’s Homily – Thanksgiving and farewell mass
Today, we celebrate 8 years, 1 month, 25 days, 10 hours, 27 minutes and 40 seconds of service to God in the great Diocese of Ndola. I wish to thank God for the great opportunity He gave me to serve Him, to serve His Church and to serve you in this period of our history. In this whole period of time, it has not been easy but God has been so gracious and He has seen me through – through thick and thin.
I recall at installation in 2010 of the challenges that faced our Diocese. These were ranging from debt burden to structural scarcity for effective management of our spiritual, human and material resources of the Diocese. However, God has seen us through and I am gratefulto Him. I also thank each and every one of you for your commitment and dedication. Together we have made a difference to our Diocese.
I acknowledge with gratitude to my brother Bishops from Mufulira save for Bishop Valentine Kalumba from Livingstone, who could not make it due to prior engagements. My heartfelt thanks go to all my brother priests both religious and diocesan with whom we have worked closely together in the vineyard of the Lord.
A big thank you to the Consecrated, Religious men and women in the Diocese. Your different charisms continue to contribute greatly in the enhancement of the people of God you serve in different capacities (namely: in pastoral, education, health, social andcharitable works etc). In your personal witness, you continue to show God’s presence amongst His people. Please never tire.
Lastly but not the least, my admiration goes to our laity, men and women, the youth and the Holy childhood. You are great. It is with deeper appreciation that we recognize you. Your participation and collaboration in the life of the Diocese especially in Parishes, SCCs, Lay Groupings, Associations, Commissions, Foundations, Trusts and various Committees is greatly treasured. We always count on you for your support and encouragement. You have made our Diocese great. Zima Ndola – Kopala Swaga! You make us proud.
Let us now turn to the word of God we listened to. In our Gospel reading and especially in verses 7 and 8 of Chapter 16 make interesting reading and food for thought. The two words found there are not found elsewhere in other Gospels. The angel tells the women, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter.” Special mention is given to Peter. How considerate is Jesus. Jesus thinks too much of a penitent sinner than his actual sin. How comforting this special mention was to Peter, considering his denial of Jesus three times at the crucial time of His death. (This is how God looks at us despite our shortcomings and betrayals).
On the other hand, the women fled from the tomb trembling in fear and ‘they said nothing to anyone’. However, when we read the apparition of the risen Jesus given in verse 9, 12 and 14; Jesus as a matter of fact tries to convey the message through Mary Magdalene and through Cleophus and his companion to Emmaus. But the stubborn disbelief of the disciples is not overcome by the narrations of those who had the experience of the Risen Lord. The stubbornness of “Unless I see” of Thomas is reflected in some degree in other disciples too. Jesus appeared before the eleven and reproached them for their disbelief and stubbornness.
At any rate, what is said of the Resurrection of Jesus can also be said about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist: For those who believe, no explanation is necessary however, for those who don’t believe no explanation is ever possible.
However, Jesus does not leave us half way. He who brought us this far will take us through the full way. That is His promise. That is what He proves in today’s Gospel. The same failed Peter and his stubborn friends are entrusted with the mission: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation”. He also entrusts us the same mission to evangelize beginning with our families, collaborators until the end of our life.
Looking back at the past 8 years plus, of service in our diocese. I have learnt one thing namely, to see life through the eyes of faith. Whatever happens (good or bad), it happens for a purpose. It will be up to you to give it meaning – a blessing or a curse. It is for this reason that I would urge each and every one of you to look at fate as an opportunity (an opportunity to grow and succeed). It is a window of opportunity. It is not a moment of finger pointing or name calling.
In the same vein, let us look at all our own wounds and hurts as warnings and lessons to better ourselves in the Lord. We could not have avoided them. They were bound to happen but for a greater purpose. Our wounds and our hurts were meant to fulfill God’s plan. Indeed to turn our weakness into His strength; our inadequacy into His sufficiency; our inability into His power, our disrepute into His honour. As Scripture says, “His grace is sufficient for us, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12, 9).
“It is in our weakness that we are strong”, because in our weakness we learn to totally depend on the power of God. With God we can do all things. Without God we can do nothing. Therefore in times of delusion or paralysis, I would urge you to seek for deeper sources of strength in God, in His Word and in the Eucharist.
As we go our separate ways on our new destinations and missions, I pray that the One who has seen us this far, will also see us through the whole way despite our own unworthiness. May God grant us faithfulness in our commitment to serve. Amen!