THIRD SUNDAY- By Fr. Desire Yamuremye

During mass, the priest at the consecration says ” Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation…” It therefore becomes very clear that “a people without memory is a people without history”. The readings of this third Sunday of Lent for this liturgical year B remind us of this reality of historical memory: God, through Moses, gives the ten commandments, the Decalogue, a of fundamental Law for the people for whom God has done so much good by bringing them out of an unworthy life of exile in Egypt. This People had promised to maintain this Covenant, this contract, abandoning idols and sacrifices but without a repented heart. In addition, the God of this alliance is a Jealous God: “Among those who hate me, I punish the fault of the fathers on the sons up to the third generation” (Ex20,5).

Sadly, the history of this people tells us that time and time again they have broken this covenant. The Gospel is a supporting evidence: “They made the house of my Father a market place” (Jn 2:16). This is an oversight, this is a denial of what founded their being and their happiness, their joy. Jesus reveals his identity to them through this disorder which he condemns.  He reveals to them that he is the fullness of the fulfilment of the Law of Moses, the fullness of the universality of salvation of all creation, of people of all languages ​​and nations. And, indeed, the disciples remembered that it is written: zeal for your house will consume me. Yes, the disciples understood Jesus’ gesture. But those who do not want to convert to the New Covenant have no shortage of arguments: they need signs.  For them, the sacrifices and the practices of the different prescriptions are sufficient.

Consequently, this season of Lent is the favourable moment to remember our history and therefore our identity. What is the meaning of being a member of the Church with Christ as the Head? What is the Church for me? Is it simply a sacramental and liturgical practice?  It seems to me that in this world, the real problem is not in those who are not baptized or who do not believe in God but in those who are baptized or who believe but limit their Faith simply by respecting the laws and precepts while forgetting the practice of Charity and Solidarity, while forgetting that we are all “Fratelli Tutti” brothers. For the second time, we are living in a time of Lent characterized once again by the Covid-19 pandemic which has hit the human race. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this pandemic comes on top of other viruses and diseases more deadly than COVID-19.  We can just think of Malaria, Tuberculosis, that infects victims along with HIV / AIDS. This Lent reminds us of our Christian duty of closeness, compassion, tenderness, and solidarity towards those who suffer the most from the socio-economic consequences of these diseases. As for those infected and / or affected by HIV / AIDS, Covid-19 has come to add insult to injury, thus becoming a new cause of comorbidity and death.

In the same way, the actions of Jesus challenge us to be men and women who defend the Truth; that we do not build societies on lies, hypocrisy, injustices.  The Christian should not be a man or woman of tactics in the face of practices contrary to his identity. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed par excellence the real virus in our human society: Inequality Virus and Poverty Pandemic. Faced with this, the Church which is the Family of God in Africa cannot be satisfied simply with good individual or community liturgical celebrations but take this moment as “Kairos” to denounce the injustices that are already coming from the availability of a Vaccine that is not accessible to all who need it.

Fr. Desire Yamuremye is Director of the Centre Culturel Loyola (CCL) and Centre Espérance Loyola (CEL), in Lome, Togo.
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