Lenten Message – 2018
A call to Listen
“Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defiles” (Mk. 7:14 -15).
Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
1. As we begin our Lenten Season, I hereby wish to reflect with you on “A call to Listen” – i.e. listening to the inner voice within us; to the various events of our daily life and our own life experiences. Each year, God offers us this period of time as a “sacramental sign” of “our conversion”. During this time God summons us to listen attentively to His Word so as to take stock of our lives and to chat a new way of living.
2. Listening requires a fair amount of discipline. It means having moments of silence every day to listen to the inner voice within us. It means having moments of listening to the various events of our daily life, both praiseworthy and condemnations. It also means having moments to listen to our own life experiences both good and bad. Even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we need to make time to listen and to discover the meaning of these events, experiences and the inner voices within us.
3. Immediately, after Jesus was baptised in the Jordan, He was led into the desert by the Spirit where He fasted and prayed for forty days and nights (cf. Lk. 4: 1-13; Mt. 4: 1-11 and Mk. 1:9–13). The desert as it were is a land of austerity and withdrawal. It is a place of utter helplessness and surrender. It is a school of detachment, a school of discipline and a school of self-control. It is an environment that helps us to acquire the right disposition to respond to the call of God (cf. Banda, 2011).
4. Each one of us has had his or her own desert experience – moments of withdrawal, moments of detachment, moments of helplessness, surrender and indeed unmatched moments of self-rediscovery of our journey of faith. These moments have been moments in which we discovered once again our friendship with the Son of God and ultimately our friendship with God. The season of Lent is, therefore, an opportune time for attentive listening, self-introspection, self-rediscovery and the rediscovery of the Author of our being – who calls us into deep communion with Himself.
5. During this season of Lent, our Lord calls us into the desert of our own hearts, not only to fast with Him, but He also calls us to listen to the inner voice within us. This inner voice urges us to do good and avoid iniquities not limited following: “Evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, and folly” (cf. Mk. 7:21-22). Moments of silence in this regard help us to listen to the inner voice which commends us to do good and avoid evil. The story of the temptations of Jesus (Mt. 4:1-11), shows us how evil lures us into wickedness using our natural human instincts for food, pleasure and power. However, Jesus dismisses the tempter and chooses the path of hunger, humility and obedience; and He emerges victorious. Therefore, when we decide to listen attentively to the Lord, we shall also emerge victorious over evil and sin.
6. Our Lenten season calls us to listen to the various events of our daily life, both praiseworthy and condemnation. This season, as it were, should help us to realize that being talented does not make us automatically useful; however, what makes us useful is the application of our talents for the growth and progress of others. We may be gifted with intelligence, but our intelligence will become a liability if it is not used to offer solutions to our society. We may have brilliant ideas, but these will become an obstacle if they are not used in building up our community. We may have the zeal, the passion but it is not worthy, if it is only used to pull others down – the infamous PhD (Pull him Down).
7. Listening to our own life experiences helps us to realize that our usefulness is not entirely in what we have but in our contribution in building a better society for all. No matter how abundantly we are gifted, endowed and resourceful; we become less useful when our actions are detrimental to the wellbeing of others. May this time of listening help us to be accountable in the usage of our potentials; to shun away from pleasant but retrogressive attitudes; to avoid fashionable but destructive behaviours; and to learn to sacrifice for the betterment of tomorrow and ultimately the betterment of our society.
8. May this season of listening to the inner voice within us, the various events of our daily life and our life experiences help us to see the presence of God in all things and enkindle in us a greater desire to serve Him and our neighbour. May Mary our Mother intercede for us.
Given this day, the 14th February, on Ash Wednesday, in the Year of our Lord, 2018; the Eleventh of our Episcopate.
+Dr. Alick Banda
Apostolic Administrator of Ndola