Among the many subjects taught in school is history, a record of the past. For those with a bad memory, it can be a nightmare and a burden of a subject to learn especially about things, people and places which may seem not to be relevant with the present. However, history as a subject ought not to be a burden but rather a tool for our present reality. The more we know about the past, the better we are prepared for the future. As they say: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Simply put people who don’t learn from their mistakes don’t mature.

Today, the 13th May in 1917, and that’s just about a hundred years ago, Our Lady appeared to the three young shepherd children – Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, at Fatima in Portugal. It was a significant event that happened towards the end of World War I. The message of our Lady was a call: to prayer and penance, a call to repentance and conversion, so that there can be peace in the world, failure to which a greater and more terrible war would

Maybe the Church and the world knew about the message rather late, and maybe the response was slow to heed the message of peace, and consequently World War II struck with terrible consequences. The question that begs an answer is: has the world learnt any lessons? After 100 years, will we ever heed the message of peace? Or will history repeat itself?

In history we can truly see how Jesus has watched over the Church and protected those that belonged to Him, as He says in the gospel. He prayed that we be protected from the evil one, so that the evil and terrible moments of history will not be repeated. Indeed Jesus watches over us, He prayed that we may be protected because we have a mission of being sent into the world to proclaim the truth, the truth of God’s love.

To communicate the truth of love and the truth with love is our mission so that we bring the message of hope to a world that has seen history repeating itself, and repeating itself not for the better – but for the worst. Worst scenarios of bitterness and hatred, innuendoes and insinuations, hateful speech and vulgar language, intolerance and violence. A hundred years later, we are called to prayer and penance, repentance and conversion so that we may restore peace and harmony in our families, communities and our society.

Today we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. For three years the disciples accompanied Jesus and in this period, Jesus entrusted them with different tasks – to love one another unreservedly; to forgive each other without measure; to wash each other’s feet endlessly; and to feed the hungry without counting the cost, etc. However, the last task He entrusted His disciples was: “to go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to the
whole creation” (Mk 16:15).

The Feast of Ascension gives us the responsibility not only of representing Jesus in our society, or in our community and indeed in our families but also of writing our fifth gospel. We write a new page of the gospel each day, through the things that we do and the words that we say. Others read what we write whether we are being faithful and truthful. However, what is the content? The content of our fifth Gospel may be seen in the way we live and represent Jesus in our families, to our neighbours, friends, co-workers etc.

As we go to the bi-elections here in Chilanga – my appeal goes to those vying for the position of leadership. Kindly, do not fall short of service and sacrifice for the betterment of the poor who are the majority of our society. Also, endeavour to pursue the will of God in the promotion of justice, peace, reconciliation and unity amongst our people of diverse cultural, tribal, religious and political affiliations. This is the only way we will maintain peace and love with one another and amongst ourselves. Zambia is bigger than ourselves; Zambia is bigger than the political divide. Together, we can make a difference. The Bemba adage has it: “Umunweo umo taulasala Inda”. May our Lady of Fatima intercede for us. Amen.

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