Switzerland is a country of high mountains covered in snow all the year round. It is invigorating to walk there and breathe the pure air. I was staying with friends and one day we approached the highest peak, the Matterhorn, but we had to be satisfied with seeing if from afar even though we had climbed by car, funicular railway and foot. There was no way we were equipped to reach its summit.
Mukai, a Roman Catholic magazine in Zimbabwe, recently ran a number on witchcraft. Much information is shared and much anxiety expressed but the dominant message is that witchcraft is a reality and many Christians have in practice a ‘dual affiliation’ – to Christianity and the African Traditional Religions. As Catholic Bishop Muchabaiwa of Mutare once put it, they are like frogs which seek water when there is trouble, and when the water is disturbed they go back to dry land. Writers in Mukai plead for the church to ‘do something’ about witchcraft.
But what is that ‘something?’ The solution is clear even if it is hard. It is to believe in a higher power than all these real or imaginary powers that trouble people. Or to form where they seek help in their difficulties.
We may be Christians for many years, even for a generation or two? But do we really believe in Jesus? Do we really believe he has ‘all power, all authority’ (Matt 28:18). Or do we just hear these words and pass on. We may be priests or religious people and have gone through years of study and formation, but are we real believers? It is amazing to hear how we burden ourselves with nyora, zvikwambo, mazango, nyanga and makona and the like. We may not be among those who reach the tops of mountains but we can be nourished by the pure air of faith available even on the lower slopes.
When the people came to Jesus to ask him for a sign the very day after he had given them the powerful sign of feeding them with bread and fish (John 6:30), one can sense his disappointment at their desire for the lesser, the comfortable, when the greater was available to them. They wanted “bread to eat” but he himself was the “bread of life.”
“Set your mind on the higher gifts,” says Paul (I Cor. 12:31). It is a constant theme on the journey of the Christian. We so easily settle for less.
Yes, I go to church. Yes, I take a leading role in the guilds and I am actively involved in the parish. But do not ask too much of me. If you do I will run away like the frog and jump into the water.