A CALL TO RENEWAL

By Wilberforce Bukuta
How much our world needs a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit! The Psalmist prays, “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth (Ps 104:30). Many people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world. The world is sometimes referred to as a wounded world.
Let us take a closer look at the situation of today’s world. On the one hand the international panorama presents prospects for promising economic and social development, but on the other it brings some great concerns to our attention about the future of man. There is no longer a sense of solidarity at the international level, economic, social and political transactions work to the advantage of the industrialised nations so that the chasm between the rich and poor is ever widening. Violence in many cases marks the relations between persons and peoples. Democracy is compromised and the taking of another’s life, or even one’s own life is equated to heroism.After mentioning such ills that are tormenting the present generation one cannot forget the serious scandal of the shocking ongoing inequalities between rich and poor – be it countries, or social classes in a single nation. Poverty blights billions across the globe. Discrimination and persecution for racial, cultural, religion and political affiliation have driven many people to flee their own countries to seek refuge and protection elsewhere, with the attendant well documented adverse consequences of a life in the diaspora inflicted on present and future generations. It is a world where politics has been for the “thick-skinned” or the “rough and tough hearted”, and if one enters this arena, one should expect to be roughed up. Technological progress, often thought of as the pedestal towards progress and betterment,all too often ushers in new threats of imbalances and injustices when it is not aimed at the dignity and good of man or directed towards solidarity based developments. There is, moreover, a constant threat regarding the man – environment relationship due to the indiscriminate use of resources.

What is the cause?
All ills that the world is suffering are caused by sin. Indeed, an unjust situation does not happen by chance, it is not something branded by a fatal destiny. Obviously there is human responsibility. The Old Testament prophets knew how to put it clearly and emphatically. For instance the prophet Micah speaks of the ills of his time saying: “Hear, you leaders of Jacob, rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not your duty to know what is right, you who hate what is good, and love evil? You who tear their skin from them, and their flesh from their bones! They eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from them, and break their bones. They chop them in pieces like flesh in a kettle, and like meat in a cauldron. When they cry to the Lord, he shall not answer them; rather shall he hide his face from them at that time, because of the evil they have done.”(Mic 3:1-4).

Now it is the duty of the contemporary prophets to stand up and condemn sinful activities in the world. The first liberation needed is liberation from the radical slavery of sin and its goal is freedom of the children of God. Gustavo Gutierrez defines sin as “The absence of fellowship and love in relationship among persons, the breach of friendship with God and with other persons, and as a consequence, an interior personal division”.

Where therefore can we look for answers?

The mother Church in this season of Lent offers us a remedy to heal our wounded world as we prayed on the Third Sunday of Lent’s opening prayer:
“O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and alms giving have shown us a remedy for sin look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted by your mercy” (Roman Missal).

The Spirit points us towards the way that leads to life, love, and the truth. “Jesus is the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14: 6). Christ is our future, his Gospel is the life changing communication that gives hope, throws open the dark door of time and illuminates the future of humanity. St Paul understood it well when he said, “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus”(Rom 3: 24). There is a saying attributed to St Augustine: “If you wish to remain young, seek Christ”. In him we find the answers that we are seeking, we find the strength to pursue the path worth living for; we find the strength to purse the path that will bring about a better world. Humanity needs to be liberated and redeemed. The entire creation is suffering and waiting for real freedom, it is waiting for a different, better world, it is waiting for redemption. And deep down it knows that this world that is awaited supposes a new man; it supposes the “children of God”.

Sin requires a radical liberation. This radical liberation is the gift which Christ offers mankind. Christ, our Liberator, has freed us from sin and from slavery. It is by his death and resurrection that he has liberated man from sin which is the fundamental alienation and root of all injustices, corruption, ‘culture of killing’, selfishness and abuse of power. This is why the Christian life is a Passover, a passage from sin to grace, from death to life, from injustice to justice, from subhuman to fully human. Christ’s gift of the Spirit allows us to enter into communion with God and others. The Church has always expressed her desire to awaken the Christian conscience to the sense of justice, social responsibility and solidarity with the poor and the oppressed.

Our hearts find no rest until they rest in the Lord, as St Augustine says. May our generation find rest in the Lord.

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