1. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


  1. Once again, we are graced with this Lenten Season; a period of spiritual renewal, a time of restoration, and indeed a time of grace. It is a time in which God invites us more passionately and intimately to our original goodness.  The goodness with which God created mankind.  As scriptures attests “On the sixth day, God looked at everything He had made, and found it very good” (Gen. 1:31).


  1. And even when we have wondered away from our original goodness through disobedience (Gen. 3: 1-24), God never abandons us. In His mercy He comes to our aid, to seek us and to bring us to our original goodness.  In the corridors of scripture we note with admiration how God continues to offer mankind opportunities of His original goodness through covenants (Gen. 9:12-28; 15:1-20; Ex. 19:1-24:11).  And through the prophets God continues reaching out to us and teaching us to look forward to salvation, our restoration (Heb. 3: 1-19 and 4:1-13).  At the appointed time, He sent His Only Begotten Son to be our Saviour.  He proclaimed the good news of salvation; freedom to captives; and joy to the sorrowful.  In His pursuit to accomplish salvation for all, He gave Himself up to death, and by rising from the dead, He destroyed death and restored life (Phil. 2:1-11).  Thus, God restored us all to our original goodness.


  1. Albeit our restoration, we continue to slip back into our past, into our disobedience, into our own sinfulness, thereby wondering away from the presence of God. Time and again, we wonder away from God’s presence through our natural human instinct for food and drink, our human instinct for luxury and pleasure, and our human instinct for security and power.[1]  However, God continues to summon each and every one of us personally to Himself as He invites us: “Harden not yours hearts,” (Ps. 95: 8).  And further, He says the time is fulfilled, and His Kingdom is close at hand. “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1: 15).


  1. Our Lenten season therefore, becomes an opportune time, a time of grace in which God through His Word, offers us an opportunity to develop the sensitivity that helps us to listen; to listen to the inner voice – the voice of God within us. Despite all odds, we are His beloved, and on us rests His favour (cf. Mt. 3:17).  However, this offer has to be personally accepted through a personal conscious decision.  And in another text it says: “Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt. 18:3).  Becoming a child in this text means to live towards a second innocence – the innocence that comes with personal choices of doing good and avoiding evil.


  1. Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the great missionary of charity once said that giving love, pure and generous love, is the fruit of a daily decision. Every day we have to choose to love and this requires help from above.  The help that comes from Christ, from the wisdom found in His word.  With His help, we can choose to detach ourselves from our human instincts for food and drink so as to be able to reach out to others especially those who hunger, not only for food and drink but also for love, for compassion, to be somebody to someone.  To those who are naked, not only for clothing but also for protection.  To those who are homeless, not only for shelter made of stone, but also that homelessness that comes from having no one to call their own.


  1. Deep within ourselves, God is calling us to spend time with Him in this Lenten season, but this kind of intimacy, this prayer requires discipline. It requires time for moments of silence every day.  Often, it means waiting for the Lord to speak.  Even amidst the business and stress of our daily lives, we need to make space for silence because it is in silence that we find God (1Kg. 19).  And in silence we discover our true identity, the ultimate meaning of our human existence.  The quest for the sacred is the search for the one thing necessary, which alone satisfies the longings of the human heart.  Therefore, selfcontrol from our human instincts for luxury and pleasure will help us to attain discipline for silent prayer.


  1. Passion for the truth, intellectual honesty and genuine conversion are costly. However, the truth that sets us free cannot be kept to ourselves; it calls for testimony, it begs to be heard, and in the end its convincing power comes from itself and not from the human eloquence or arguments in which it may be couched.  Pope Paul VI once said, “People today listen more readily to witnesses than to teachers. If they do listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”.


  1. Today, perhaps more than ever before in our history, Christian witness is greatly needed. It means living out the faith we profess. If we the baptized Christians do not rise to the occasion, then we fail as Christians to shape society and mold it as God wishes it to be.  This may demand making sacrifices, facing challenges and difficulties.  It may also lead to suffering as He suffered, be despised, be criticized, be written off, and have everything said against us.  However, when all is said and done, we shall rise and reign with Him, who suffered, died and rose from the dead.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows pray for us as we journey on our way to our original goodness through the Cross.

+Dr. Alick Banda

Bishop of Ndola

[1] Cf. Bishop Alick Banda, “Jesus’ Desert Experience – A summons to Imitate Him,” Lenten Message – 2011.