Posts Tagged ‘peace’

CHRISTMAS: ONE FESTIVAL, TWO KEY CONCEPTS

Today is a special day for Christianity. Many non-Christians have also adopted Christmas out of solidarity or for personal convenience. It, therefore, seems appropriate to us to stimulate reflection on the deep meaning of this festival and its impact on humanity in the light of Luke 2:13-14: « Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God, and saying, « Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. » (NIV)

These words follow the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and his solemn announcement to the shepherds who tended their flocks in the vicinity of Bethlehem. It was at night. The timing could not be better to announce the birth of the Light of the world. However, the symbol does not stop there because the choice of shepherds seems highly disconcerting. Indeed, the shepherds did not have a good reputation at that time. People perceived them as dirty, dishonest, and unreliable. They were, therefore, on the margins of society. But curiously, it is on them and not on the political authorities, the religious leaders, or the business men and women that the choice of God falls to have the scoop of this announcement as exceptional as it is. But what is the deep meaning of this divine strategy?

The hermeneutical key seems to reside in the two fundamental concepts: « glory » and « peace ». Although the original text is in Greek, the terms dóxa (glory) and eirênê (peace) naturally refer to Hebrew realities because the first listeners were Jews. Thus, the glory does not only translate the external beauty and the excellence of the divine nature. It also reflects the Hebrew term kavod, which means « glory, honor, respect, distinction, and importance. » Thus, beyond the aesthetic dimension, the divine majesty is so immense that its weight is terrifying. As a result, human norms and conventions crumble like a house of cards before divine glory, giving shepherds the same value in the eyes of God as any other individual in society. The reasoning is simple: everybody is welcome since even marginalized people are now valued. Christmas is good news for everyone, without any discrimination. What about the second concept?

Here too, it would be aberrant to see in peace mentioned in this text the notion of absence of war and conflict conferred by the etymological meaning of this term in Greek. Instead, this word is deeply rooted in the Jewish cultural and religious context. Thus, « peace » refers to the Hebrew term shalom. It confers the idea of harmony in all dimensions of the human condition. It is harmony with God, with oneself, with one’s fellow beings, with one’s activities, and with one’s environment. In short, it is holistic well-being. At Christmas, God announces to humanity the solution to the multidimensional imbalance caused by the fall in the Garden of Eden. Through Christ, God is interested in spiritual, physical, psychological, social, economic, environmental, and integral welfare of His creatures. It is also under this holistic paradigm that the Lord Jesus placed his ministry through reading the passage from the book of Isaiah, which relates to it in detail (cf. Luke 4:16-19 and Isaiah 61:1 -2 [old Greek version]). Thus, the shepherds have become agents of integral transformation. They promptly assumed this responsibility, spreading the good news in their immediate surroundings (cf. Luke 2:16-20). We then understand that if the outcast can be catalysts for holistic peace, those with a more honorable social position can do it more.

Therefore, this profound message has a broader scope than a superficial reading of the text! The fact that the text is available today, even translated into multiple languages and within reach of the contemporary public, challenges us all. To celebrate Christmas in the spirit of the biblical story is to go beyond the peripheral, material, commercial or worldly dimensions to live the values it contains. As former US President John Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) so aptly said, « Christmas is not a day or a season; it’s a state of mind. »  Beyond Christmas’s lively and temporal character, human beings may draw from the depth of their relationship with the Creator of the universe and everything within it to be an instrument of peace in all its dimensions. In so doing, the world would be a better place to live. May it please the Lord to grant us the courage, wisdom, strength, and perseverance to be ambassadors of shalom, in words and deeds, in a world plagued by hostile forces and violence in its many forms!

Prof. Moussa Bongoyok

Christmas 2022

MISINFORMATION IS A PUBLIC DANGER

« Darbatani jinfu hinqabatani.»

« After you have thrown the spear, you cannot catch hold of its end. »

« Une fois qu’une lance est lancée,  on ne peut plus en attraper le bout.» (Proverbe oromo, Ethiopie)

 

Meaning: Once something is done. It is better to think before acting., one cannot undo it, though one may regret having done it. »

Source : Diane Steward Wisdom from Africa : A Collection of African Proverbs. Cape Town : Struit Publishers, 2005. p. 158.  

 

Biblical parallel

Journalism is a noble profession. It renders an invaluable service to humanity. Journalists deserve our respect on account of the risks they undertake. Many of them have been threatened, terrorized, vilified, humiliated, tortured, imprisoned, kidnapped, and killed. Their desire to inform is so strong that they will not let anything discourage them. The rest of humanity should not only welcome such courage, but also provide them with all the necessary support.

However, there are some ‘false journalists’ who, in contempt of journalistic ethics, work to incite violence. For example, the anti-Balaka group in Central African Republic is represented by many in the media as a Christian militia despite the protests from Christian leaders of this country. 

Moreover, pictures of these militias ostensibly display many amulets. This shows that they hold to non-Christian beliefs; also, their actions clearly do not reflect the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Unfortunately, in the midst of erroneous reports, that reality is distorted. Worse, this misinformation adds fuel to the flame that burns a nation deeply wounded by pitting Christians against Muslims. The international community must take this situation seriously as this may lead to genocide. 

The same is true for other cases of misinformation around the world. It is high time that we take into account the words of Oromo wisdom: « once a spear is launched, you can no longer catch the front-end. » Indeed, one can master a spear in his possession but once it is propelled, it is out of control. A mature reflection is needed before speaking or writing. In this sense, the Oromo wisdom joined biblical wisdom for it is written in Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (NIV). Furthermore, it is written in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” James 3:1-18 states the same thing.

The point is, the tongue is as powerful as a sword. It is able to hurt or heal, to kill or to give life. Depending on how we use them, the words we speak can have huge consequences, hence the importance of thinking deeply before saying anything. Fortunately, as regards speech or writing, there is always a possibility to limit the damage in correcting their trajectory when this is done promptly. We hope that conscientious women and men in the media will start the hard work of restoring truth in Central Africa and elsewhere. Above all, never forget that every human stands to win when an instrument of peace and reconciliation, and to cause trouble and rifts between communities; to do otherwise is to saw off the bench on which you sit.

 

© Copyright by Moussa Bongoyok, 2014

SAVOIR FAIRE LA PAIX

« Gannaw ay, jàmm. » (Proverbe wolof)

« Après le conflit, la paix. »(proverbe wolof)

« After conflict, peace. » (Wolof proverb)

Signification: ll faut savoir faire la paix.

 

 

Source: http://aphrikaweb.afrikblog.com/archives/proverbes_africains/index.html

 

« Détourne-toi du mal, et fais ce qui est bien,
cherche la paix avec ténacité. » Psaume 34:15 (Bible du Semeur)

 

« Ne rendez pas le mal pour le mal, ni l’injure pour l’injure. Répondez au contraire par la bénédiction, car c’est à cela que vous avez été appelés, afin de recevoir vous-mêmes la bénédiction.

Car,
Celui qui veut aimer la vie
et voir des jours heureux
doit veiller sur sa langue pour ne faire aucun mal par ses paroles,
et pour qu’aucun propos menteur ne passe sur ses lèvres.

Qu’il fuie ce qui est mal et fasse le bien;
qu’il recherche la paix avec ténacité,

car les yeux du Seigneur se tournent vers les justes:
il tend l’oreille à leur prière.
Mais le Seigneur s’oppose à ceux qui font le mal.  » ( 1 Pierre 3:9-12, La Bible du Semeur).


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