"Madiba Sunday and the Gospel of Joy of Pope Francis"
In the past few weeks each of us have been greeted with “the Gospel of Joy” (Evangelii Gaudium) of Pope Francis and the death of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), otherwise known as Madiba in his native
What both men stood for resonates in the Bible readings of today: justice of God, peace (Isa 11:1-10), harmony (Rom 15:4-9) reconciliation and divine promises to those who love God, and are prepared for repentance, conversion, and renewal (Matt 3:1-12).
These divine promises began last Sunday in Isaiah 2:1-5 is continued today (Isa 11:1-10. Isaiah says today; “a shout shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from its roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord… He shall judge the poor with justice and decides aright for the land afflicted.”
Christ, of course is the bearer of this peace and judger of the poor(afflicted, segregated, terrorized, typhooned, tsunamized, sandied, marginalized),with justice. As he comes at Christmas, he brings us his divine Wisdom and Understanding. He brings us the understanding that we are one people of God no matter our nationality and the color of our skins. He brings us the wisdom to include the poor and the needy in the socio-economic and political fabrics of the society. These are virtues and societal qualities that Mandela/Madiba of "ages,"(cf.Obama) stood for, stressed also in the Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis.
Some times we forget that we are weak and are humans. In our weakness and humanness Christ also brings us the spirit of counseling and strength (Isa 11:2). He brings us strength and endurance to continue to bear our vital responsibilities at home, church, schools offices, factories and in all our work places, as well as our prayer lives and spiritual responsibilities- of keeping awake!
As Paul would have assured, Christ wants everyone to be saved, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, children an adult, black and white, the rich and the poor. The more reason he warned the Pharisees and the Sadducees in today’s Gospel to repent for the kingdom God was at hand, and of course , to “produce good fruits” as evidence of their repentance ( Mtt 3:1-12).
The messages of Isaiah, Saint, Paul and Christ may sometimes sound distance from us. They are not.Every Christian of every time, place and culture is called Alter Christus(another Christ). We are called in our time, culture, context, community, particular circumstance(irrespective of our titles, and ideologies, "Pharisees or Sadducees") to be the conduit of love, unity, inclusion, dialogue with, understanding, wisdom, counseling, justice, hope, patience, faith, fear of the Lord to those who are in need, especially in today’s world.
In the light today’s Bible readings, we can begin now to work for a better world,by not only reflecting deeply on the significance of the “Gospel of Joy” of Pope Francis but also on those good principles that Madiba of South Africa, this global icon, stood for: endurance, universalism, social justice, freedom, inclusion of everyone, from every place, rich and poor, black and white, reconciliation, peace and dialogue, hope and joy in justice.