Kenya: Lenten Message by Archbishop Boniface Lele

A reflection on Lent by the Catholic Archbishop of Mombasa: Silence, the Journey to Intimacy with God. Reprinted courtesy Catholic Information Service for Africa.

The reading of the first Sunday of Lent talks about Jesus going into the desert for forty days, being alone with no comfort or any food. It shows us that we should sometimes be ready to detach ourselves from all that holds us back- meaning our human desires, and other unnecessary attachments, and seek for a more enriching encounter and intimacy with the Lord. This intimacy or friendship makes us simple, more joyful and less concerned about our fears and worries. It prepares us for a happy death. It prepares us for generosity and a better relationship with others. We do not need to go to the wilderness for forty days, but we need to be alone with the Lord from time to time, sorting out our desires to be there for him rather than for selfish or ulterior motives.

Inner prayers where we touch God in the centre of our lives, gives us motivation to be reconciled within ourselves and good to others, especially the underprivileged and marginalised. We are able to feel with them and we are moved to do something or be there for them.

This year, we have seen and heard that many people have no food due to the famine situation in many parts of our country. During lent, we are called to fast, but this year, if we fast, we are called to give something to those who do not have. They may be our relatives, friends, or even people whom we do not know. Most people do not have enough. We can not help all but the little that we can will be most appreciated.

The causes for the present famine situation has been lack of rain due to environmental degradation, post-election violence whereby many farmers were uprooted from their farming areas, and some food was burnt, and last but not least- the food scandals whereby food was used for other reasons rather than for feeding hungry Kenyans. The above mentioned causes for lack of food go to show that if we have to live and survive together, we need to be reconciled with one another. There are land issues amongst others. Yes, we are different, but we are called to be brothers and sisters. It is better to speak out and solve our problems, rather than fermenting our anger up to a point where it becomes poisonous and deadly.

We need to respect God’s creation- first human beings, but also other creatures and the environment.

Respect and being reconciled with other people is not an automatic reality. It requires careful and caring listening and attention. We need to learn how to talk and relate to one another. What we see these days in news cast in giving –out to one another, blaming others, justifying of the self. Political and social life based on those terms never thrives. If people are working as team; person to person talk, small groups sorting out issues and coming up with strategies, helps to lubricate the process. Following the way of the family, most of the sorting out differences should be done more privately, personally and professionally.

Due to lack of resources more and more people are depending on trees and selling charcoal and firewood. At this time of famine that seems to be the only way to get money if the trees are available. It is the wrong direction because this caused desertification and will most likely increase the occurrence of drought and famine. We need to encourage poor rural people to be friendlier to nature and creation by planting more trees. We should manage sustainable farming and livestock keeping.

Human beings are the crown of creation of God. They need help to sustain life in the world through love care and gentle exploitation of God’s creation. Governments and Religions, in particular Christianity, have to address this for the present and future generations.

Archbishop Boniface Lele

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One Response to “Kenya: Lenten Message by Archbishop Boniface Lele”

  1. Stephen Klaber Says:

    Kenya has other food and fuel resources to exploit. Typha (cattails) are abundant in Kenya. If grown in clean water, they are an excellent food crop. Their habit of cleansing water and soil of pollutants means that not just any can be eaten. All of it can be made into fuel – ethanol or charcoal. The charcoal it makes is powdery and must be briquetted. Water hyacinth is abundant, too, and can be digested into fuel gas. Clearing aquatic weeds would help with most of your other troubles too. Across Africa, aquatic weeds are part of flooding, disease and hunger. The Typha infestation in the Lake Chad basin is the driving force behind the expansion of the Sahel.

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