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Attending to unfinished homework

As the clocked ticked over to 2018, ushering in a fresh start, the Bishop of Manzini has reminded us to attend to unfinished homework. 

We bring into this new year all our hopes and dreams of a better future for each one of us, for our families, for our nation and for the world. We bring into this new year all our hopes and dreams for peace! Peace in our hearts, peace in our families, peace in our country, peace in the world!

Unfortunately a new year does not come with the turning of a page where all the bad news of the previous year are left behind. We brought into the new year our “2017 unfinished homework”.

The challenges of poverty, gender based violence, human trafficking, climate change, corruption, HIV/Aids among others, walk with us into the new year. They will still affect our lives. If our wish for peace is real, each one is called to commit themselves to make a difference.

Though so much is in the hands of each one of us in any type of leadership, it is not “someone else’s responsibility” to put an end to them. It is yours and mine and we can only do it together.

We have said enough words. It is time for a change of attitude. We need to move from a “selfie” attitude of “me, myself and I” at the centre to the gift that each one of us can be towards our brothers and sisters. Everyone is needed.

For Christians this is a matter of faith. We are our brothers and sisters’ keepers (Gen 4:9). We are called to love not just by words or mere talk, but in an active and genuine way (1 Jo 3: 18).  We too, like Jesus, ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 Jo 3: 16) because if one sees his brother or sister in need but closes his / her heart, how can the love of God be remaining in him/her? (1 Jo 3:17)

What must be done? 

Let us multiply spaces of dialogue and help each other to find practical ways of addressing these issues; let us reflect together on the way we relate with each other making sure our most vulnerable brothers and sisters in our families, churches and society at large are cared and protected.

We need to reflect on the way we relate to power and make sure we do not confuse authority with any type of violence.

We need to reconsider the way each one of us relate with money, our financial priorities in the light of those who hardly live from hand to mouth and let us not fall into the temptation of easily justifying our needs and attitudes. It will only make things worse.

And for those serving others – our religious, NGOs, civil and political institutions – may they reconsider their expenses without fear making sure the poorest in our communities are at the centre.

On new year’s eve Pope Francis said: “Even the year 2017, which God gave us whole and healthy, we human beings have in many ways wasted and wounded it with works of death, with lies and injustices. Wars are the flagrant sign of this backsliding and absurd pride. But so are all the small and great offenses against life, truth, and solidarity, which cause multiple forms of human, social and environmental degradation. We desire to and must assume fully, before God, our brothers and Creation, our own responsibility.”

How would you like 2018 to be and what are you ready to do to make it possible?

Image: Flickr/USAID

 

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.

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José Luís Ponce de León
José-Luís Ponce de León IMC is bishop of the Diocese of Manzini, Swaziland. Argentinian by birth, for many years he worked as a missionary in rural Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. After working at the Consolata Missionary's General House in Rome, he returned to South Africa and was ordained bishop of Ingwavuma in 2008. In 2013 he was appointed bishop of Manzini.

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