Reflection submitted by Fr. Gideon Sidinga, C.Ss.R, novice master
The Capitulars of the 2016 General Chapter did indeed experience a Pentecostal moment when they chose the Sexennial theme – “Witnesses of the Redeemer in solidarity for mission in a wounded world”. This theme was chosen in a world which has been injured and fragmented so much that it has led to a further degree of polarization. Everywhere, including society and the Church, we witness the cracks and the bleeding wounds of the People of God.
The coronavirus pandemic has lifted the veil that covered human vulnerability and highlighted the fragility of each one of us – and this cuts across race, colour, nationality and geographical locations. We were, and are all, affected by the rage of COVID 19.
Here in our community, some members have contracted COVID 19, while in our parishes, it has been rife. The Gospel of Mark captures the images so well when the evangelist writes, “…in those days after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, the moon will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And they will see the Son of Man coming…” (Mk 13: 24 -25). In the midst of despondency, it seems for many there is no more light; we can lose hope because that which casts light is no longer doing so.
In addition to this, many are still trying to adjust to ‘new COVID – 19 spirituality’. The manner of prayer and celebration of our liturgy is taking its toll on many of our Christian brothers and sisters, especially the elderly, who are still trying to keep pace with the digital gadgets of the day and also the poor and the abandoned who live in places where internet services are considered a ‘luxury’. We have parts of our country where there is no electricity, not to mention the internet. To such, there is no doubt that the sun and the moon have dimmed the rays. Never has the world been subjected to such woundedness of the world as we witness it today.
I believe that global politics has become more and more hostile to the common good. Many leaders are stubbornly holding their political positions – not to serve but to continue fattening their wallets, while the poor continue to be moved to the peripheries of society. This reality is not foreign to Zimbabwe. It is true COVID 19 has strained the national budget, but social evils like corruption and intolerance among political parties have continued to plant hostility and hatred among our citizens. There is indeed a need for hope for many young people and the unemployed majority in the country such as ours, with unemployment levels of over 80% for many of our young people.
For the Redemptorist family in Zimbabwe, this is a moment when we are challenged to be the light and the hope of the people. Following the apostolic spirituality of being sent and being witnesses to a wounded world, we are challenged to be strong beacons of hope to all people in our communities and country. This is possible because of the great hope the young people have in the Congregation. We are blessed with a stable influx of vocations. Many young people are keen to join us. At present, in Saint Alphonsus formation house, we have 17 young men – students doing their philosophy and theology studies. The Novitiate, this year, has the highest number of students who are aspiring to be Redemptorist Brothers; the percentage ratio is 90% over 10% of those who want to be Redemptorist priests. For us, this is a great sign of hope for the Congregation. It is a sign that people are not seeking clericalism or power but simply to be followers of Jesus as proposed in the gospels. (Const.74)