As another calendar year ends and a new one begins, it is a good time for us to reflect on and appreciate with gratitude the many blessings we enjoy in our beautiful country. In spite of “shared sacrifice” and “structural adjustment” we have enjoyed peace, stability and freedom from major natural disasters in 2015.
In his message for World Day of Prayer for Peace (1st January 2016) Pope Francis asks us to overcome the spirit of indifference, selfishness and lack of commitment that is so prevalent in the today’s world. The traditional values of solidarity, cooperation and care for the most vulnerable have not been lost but are under attack by the materialistic, consumerist ideology that is so prevalent today especially in the more developed countries.
Indifference and lack of commitment are the greatest threat to family life today. Young people become parents before they are ready to enter into a permanent and stable relationship and the large numbers of “child support” cases before the courts are evidence of this. The sad stories behind each of these cases include injustice, heartbreak, and hardship, especially for the children.
Pope Francis has also declared this year to be a Jubilee Year of Mercy. The biblical idea of jubilee involves forgiveness and concern for the suffering of others. It is not easy to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness from God but it is even more difficult to ask forgiveness from our brothers and sisters.
Most of us do not find it easy to forgive those who have wronged us but in this Jubilee Year of Mercy we are called upon to ask for forgiveness and to grant forgiveness without reservation.
The poor will always be with us (Mark 14:7) and we must remember that the Kingdom of God belongs to them (Matthew 5:3). If we are to practise the faith in Christ that we profess, then we must not only open our eyes and our hands to the needy in our society, but we must also ensure that our leaders’ policies which are being forged in the National Plan and Constitutional Review make adequate provision for the welfare of the poor.