“Remember it is those who had endurance that we say are the blessed ones. You have heard of the patience of Job, and understand the Lord’s purpose, realizing that the Lord is kind and compassionate” (JM 5:11)
The above text from St. James is one of the Epistles addressed to the Christian community in general. It is an invitation to Christians of his time but also of all ages to persevere and patiently endure all challenges to their Christian faith (see Jm 1:2-4).
Like other places in the world, our continent is currently ravaged by different variants of Corona virus. Recent statistics indicate that confirmed total cases of Covid-19 from African countries are more that 4.7 million and reported deaths are over 127 thousand. St the moment, seven countries on the continent are reported to be facing a surge in infections of Covid-19. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the high number of global cases still poses a risk for Africa (www.afro .who.int; cf www.worldometers.info/coronavirus, www.aa.com.tr/en/africa, 18th May 2021)
This situation is further aggravated by incessant terrorist attacks and other acts of violence, unleashed even on innocent people and children, resulting to tens of thousands of fatalities in a number of African countries. Sites of internally displaced people, who are without basic necessities and exposed to infectious diseases are common across the continent and the Islands.
All these issues are great concern for us, you shepherds and pastors, especially, because we urged for prayers for the end of the pandemic and violence last year (2020) and have been praying since then. Yet, the stories are the same, if not worse now. This certainly raises questions about God’s power to save his children from such adversities or why he has allowed people to suffer from them for so long.
To all those infected with different variants of Corona virus or awfully affected by the raging vicious conflicts and other tragedies, we assure you of our spiritual closeness and solidarity. We continue to pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of all who have died and condole with those who have lost beloved ones.
In line with our Statement on Covid-19 and its Consequences last year (2020), kindly be reminded that God our Father is love (1 Jn 4:8); he is full of compassion (Jm 5:11; Ps 116:5) and has control over creation at all times. Therefore, he cannot turn against his children. Be assured that God is participating in the pain inflicted by Covid-19 and the violence and will surely overcome the distress (SECAM Statement 2020, p. a). Go through life with courage, valour and perseverance, and you will be counted among the “blessed ones” (Jm 5:11. Remember how Job persevered and God restored all his fortunes (cf Job 42:10-15). Be of good cheer, God will not abandon you in daily life, in calamity and even in death (see Rm 14:7-8).
As we celebrate Pentecost this year (2021), let us all open our hearts to the Holy Spirit who will bequeath to us courage, fearlessness and patience-endurance as he did to the first disciples of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 2:1-11). Pentecost invites us to welcome the Spirit of God in our lives. In our daily struggle to cope with the challenges posed by Corona virus pandemic and insecurity on the continent and the Islands, let us turn to the Holy Spirit for support. He Is our life-force, our helper, our advocate, our counselor, or comforter and our teacher (see Jn 14:16, 26; 16:17).
Dear bothers and sisters, Pentecost further “reminds us that we are born from a gift and that we grow by giving” (Pope Francis, Homily on Pentecost Sunday, 31st May 2020) not only of ourselves but any little we may have. Poverty stares us n the face all over Africa and the Islands. Let us, therefore not hold back what will help a fellow brother and sister in need; after all, ‘there is more joy in giving than in receiving’ (Acts 20:30). And where genuine sharing, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control exist, the Holy Spirit is there at work. They are also practical expressions of our daily ‘Christian witness; and necessary for ‘building a new Africa centered on God’ (Kampala Document no.1).
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa and St. Joseph intercede for the Church Family of God in Africa and the Islands.
Accra, 20th May 2021