The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference once described Zimbabwe as a young nation searching for its soul. That perspective is even more apt during Easter. Without too many material distractions, at least for the majority of Zimbabweans, Easter gives us an opportunity to do both some thorough collective searching for our soul and individual soul searching.
A quick scan of the environment captures the weariness on some faces. The Lenten message has tried to invigorate us. We had to answer some hard questions, “Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15). Easter reminds us that God is with us in our context.
The two Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations, emanating from the Synods for Africa, Ecclesia in Africa and Africae Munus, urged us all to address the daunting tasks of examining our roles in reconciliation processes, good governance, common good and democratic transitions in Africa. Easter invites us to accomplish these tasks with love and joy.
Recently, a Catholic author, Ron Rolheiser, OMI, in his column quoted from Karl Rahner SJ. The religious wrote:
As Jesus was being executed he prayed: ‘Forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.’ Karl Rahner commenting on this, astutely points out that, in fact, his executioners did know what they were doing! They knew that they were crucifying an innocent man. So why does Jesus say they were acting in ignorance? Their ignorance, as Karl Rahner points out, lay at a deeper level: They were ignorant of how much they were loved, whereas Jesus was not (ignorant of this fact). When the Gospels describe Jesus’ inner state at the Last Supper, they say: “Jesus, knowing that he had come from God and that he was going back to God and that, therefore, all things were possible for Him, got up from the table and took off his outer robe…
Jesus was capable of continuing to love and to forgive in the face of hatred and murder because, at the very heart of his self-awareness, lay an awareness of who(m) He was and how much He was loved. From that source He drew his energy and His power to forgive.
We have opportunity to reach for the deeper level this Easter. God loves us. Jesus is our energy and our power to persevere, to forgive and to teach others to love and forgive. Otherwise, you will not be able to be a credible source of peace as Pope Benedict described that “peace is not merely a gift to be received; it is a task to be undertaken.” For us, as Christians, agape is a love as manifested by God’s covenant with us in the Eucharist. In and through, and with this type of love, we can address all our social ills.
Right now we are experiencing the “Roman Spring”. This is in reference to the renewal of the universal church. Pope Francis is teaching us about joy and purposefulness in our various life situations and contexts. The Bishops of Africa, at their continental meeting in Kinshasa in 2013 wrote:
The joy of life, the sense and practice of communal celebrations prevail among Africans, despite the many problems and difficulties of the Continent.
As sons and daughters of the Church, Christians of Africa believe that Christ is establishing a new universe; they learn to visualize the seeds of this new world, even in difficult conditions and situations of today. They participate in the Mission of the Church and recognize that she contributes to the building of the ‘new Africa’ through the proclamation of the Good News, acts of charity and justice as well as actions promoting reconciliation and peace on the continent…
This Easter, as we search for our soul and do our soul searching we remain a people of the covenant, of agapaic love. We are not alone. Jesus dies and rises to keep alive our faith, hope, charity, love and joy.