By Peter Madoda Bungane
FAITH does not suddenly appear out of the blue. Faith belongs right at the heart of our life experience, and relevant theology can also only be drawn out of that lived experience. Otherwise, it not only risks becoming irrelevant, but it ought to be seen as irrelevant.
Likewise, building peace and reconciliation in this wounded country does not come out of the blue, but arises from the heart of this wounded community. ‘Reconciliation’ is a word we have become almost too used to. Maybe we need to rediscover its meaning. It comes from Latin and the word consists of four parts: ‘re’, meaning ‘again’; ‘con’, meaning ‘with’; ‘cili’ is the Latin word for ‘eyelash’; and ‘ation’ denotes an action.
Reconciliation, then, literally means ‘the act of bringing back into eyelash contact’ – the ability to touch eyelashes with another person, to look into another person’s eyes without barriers or obstacles. For me, that is a very new, different and dynamic understanding of reconciliation. It calls us to something new that goes further than we ever dared to think or imagine.
In the book of the prophet Habakkuk we read: “God, how long will I cry for help while you pay no attention? I denounce oppression and yet you do not save. Why do you make us see injustice everywhere? Are you pleased to look on tyranny? All we see is outrage, violence, quarrels, wars.” Those words of Habakkuk came 600 years before Jesus, but they could almost be read from our newspapers today.??
It is a pity – scandal, even – that an explicit commitment to work for peace and reconciliation is missing from the pastoral plans of our churches, dioceses and parishes. But what would be happening in our churches if we not only took up that task, but made it our priority? What if all our churches’ plans, visions and missions were measured against the barometer of advancing healing and reconciliation in our Mother Zambia? For me, the government of the republic of Zambia, opposition parties, civil society, the Church, foreigners and residents and the citizenry of Zambia this is a call to all. We must check ourselves spiritually using the scriptures before we call for reconciliation. Check ourselves before we go on our knees and pray for our land.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Luke 17:3-4 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.