Friday, June 24, 2011

A choice between life and death

A choice between life and death
By The Post
Thu 23 June 2011, 16:20 CAT

Alick Banda, bishop of the Ndola Catholic diocese, never ceases to inspire
us with his deep thoughts and reflections on many issues that affect our
country and our people.

Today, Bishop Banda is saying: “This radical love that God has given us
entails making the world a better place for all of us to live in. We
should endeavour to leave the world a better place than we found it.

Please endeavour to create peace and justice.” This takes us to the point
we made a few days ago in our comment on the death of Frederick Chiluba
about an old Rabbinic teaching, a beautiful one, that just before a person
dies, an angel comes to him from Heaven and asks the vital question: “Tell
me, is the world a better place because of your life which is about to
end? Is the world a better place because of the efforts you exerted? Is
the world a better place because you were around?” We are here on earth as
pilgrims, on our journey towards Heaven. Having come from the hands of God
the Creator, we have to return to His presence.

All our wisdom consists in identifying and following the path that leads to Heaven. But how many deceptions! Wide is the way that leads to perdition, and many enter into it. Narrow is the path that leads to Heaven and few take it! (Matt 7: 13 – 14). God, Jesus Christ, and the Church cry out to us: “You have in front of you the way of life and the way of death; choose therefore life.” (Dt
30: 19).

But meanwhile, how many times is repeated what Dante narrates about
himself: “In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself in a
dark forest as the straight path had disappeared.”

To make ourselves good!
To make ourselves saints! This does not only mean to receive Holy
Communion or to make long prayers; it means to live by faith in Jesus
Christ, to live virtuously in Jesus Christ, to live by love for Jesus
Christ, to be zealous in knowing, imitating and loving Jesus Christ.

Long prayer is not enough if it does not bring us to Christian life; faith
is not sufficient if there are no virtues; it is not enough to be good if
we don’t do good. In order that we be Christians, completes religious, let
there be in us a true unity – life that corresponds to faith; piety that
obtains the faith and the good life: faith, life and piety that result in

Three kinds of enemies continually try to make us stray from the right
path: the world, the devil and the passions. The world deceives us by its
corrupted maxims and by forming around us an atmosphere of bad example.

The devil operates specially by exciting our passions and fantasies. And
then the chief enemy is within us; it is the passions. The passions are by
themselves neither good nor bad; they are an occasion and strength for
evil or for good, depending on whether they are governed by reason and
faith, or let loose without any control. The passions are a great army,
and it would be really difficult to correct, to control and guide them all
at the same time.

Human life is a continuous battle on earth. Therefore, fight like good
soldiers of Christ. None will be crowned except the one who fights in the
lawful manner. “I have fought the good fight; for the rest there is laid
up for me a crown of justice” (2 Tim 4: 7 - 8). These are the texts which
should take the lead in the present consideration.

Life is a battle, and in this battle, there are those who fight like ordinary soldiers, there are the captains represented by the priests, and there is the forward sentry represented by the religious. There are also the deserters who,
tired and lacking in confidence, flee the arena; there are the shirkers
who, under a thousand pretexts, hide themselves; and finally there are
those who idly stand watching, applauding or sneering. There are also the
traitors who take the enemy’s side.

Let us pray that the Lord may give strength and courage, so that all can
conquer and on that day of the final triumph can be with Jesus Christ. He
will be the head of the chosen ones, head of his victorious army, and will
gloriously enter Heaven. Far behind the conqueror will come, covered with
shame, the traitors, the deserters. Life is a battle, and the day of
universal judgment will be the culmination.

As we have stated before, the name Christian means: like Christ, follower
of Christ. Now, Jesus Christ was humble, most pure, poor, meek. How can
his disciple and imitator be proud, dishonest, greedy, corrupt, tyranical?
Alexander the Great once said to a soldier who also had the same name but
was sluggish, mean and cowardly: “Either you change your name or you
change your behaviour.”

The humble person will draw all behind him; the proud man will alienate
all: he desired praise from all, and in consequence is now gathering
contempt from all. It is always true that he who humbles himself will be
exalted and he who exalts himself will be humbled (Matt 23: 12).

With humility, one progresses in one’s proper office; with pride, one remains
empty. The proud one is an unreasonable person, and therefore is buried
under the weight of one’s own ego. The glutton, the corrupt has in himself
his own punishment.

Gluttony and corruption kills more than does the
sword. The glutton and corrupt realises that he is a mean and trivial
person; the spirit of God cannot dwell in him. He will never have high and
noble aspirations. He will crawl on the earth, and will be a worshipper of
his own belly. On the other hand, a mortified person enjoys true freedom:
he eats to live and lives to serve God and others.

A sensual person shortens his life: he does not end the satisfaction that already begins the degradation, and the prick of remorse kills the body which the person would like to satisfy. The consequences are: blindness of the mind,
inconstancy, heedlessness and particularly the fear of death and the
horror of eternity which stick to the bones and accompany the person to
the tomb.

Therefore, either conquer, or be among the conquered: the victorious
person enjoys a great peace in his heart; the conquered person is in
continuous pain. The victorious person enjoys the esteem of people; the
defeated person is despised.

Let us enter the battle like David against Goliath: one of the two should
win. The duel is till the last, up to bloodshed; there is no middle way.
“What accord had Christ with Belial?” (2 Cor 6: 15).

And Bishop Banda tells us that it would be meaningless if those who called
themselves Christian leaders treated the less privileged with injustice
and do not use their positions to help the voiceless and down-trodden in
society. He says that humankind today is surrounded by uncertainty and
needs guidance from religious leaders. “People want hope in the midst of
despair; refrain from acts of corruption and oppression, including

To be co-creators entails to take care of our natural resources
and ensure human life benefits from our leadership, especially the less
privileged…it is sad that we pride ourselves in our weaknesses. In the
world full of corruption of the mind and behaviours, it calls for
sanctification.” This is what Bishop Banda tells us. Truly, we have made a
virtue of our inadequacies.

Time for small thinking is over. We shouldn’t allow those who lead us to get away with clichéd catechisms which tempt all who become part of an apparatus. We shouldn’t tolerate hypocrisy and humbug. Truly, this country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless it’s a good place for all of us to live in.

Let’s reflect and meditate deeply on Bishop Banda’s homily and try to make our country a better place for all of us to live in and, when the time comes, to die in.

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