THINGS FALLING APART.
(Entire Creation is groaning, as with birth pangs Romans 8:20-24)
The brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, the storms of the sea with the Apostles and Jesus in the boat continue to scare our lives, our communities and the world at large. We continue to reflect and ponder in our hearts what these could mean without letting them take the place of God’s doing, Immanuel, as Mary did.
It is obvious and tasteless to wonder aloud whether the world is coming to an end or not. It is an ancient puzzle to acknowledge, caution or wonder hence, as the New Testament did viz-a-viz the enigmatic and imminent Second Coming.
The Things falling apart conviction is as controversial as the realities of and in (bi)partisan politics, ethical and moral dilemmas and the game of thrones, if that makes any sense.
Yet I cannot but wonder aloud if things are falling apart given the proleptic and impending threat, chaos and menace of climate change, Artificial Intelligence, wars and revolts, apparent increasing evil and moral decadence and decreasing or eroding Transcendental properties of truth, beauty, good – the inversely proportional coexistence of good and evil.
And yet the external apparent collapse is as deniable and undeniable as the internal collapse of the status quo – human life, person, health, genome, values, outlook or destiny. Do not many stand speechless in hospital wards in front of dying patients or GPs receiving medical reports of terminal illnesses and impending death?
From fragility in health to vulnerability with nuclear proliferation; from the culture of death by witchcraft and occultism to the culture of disaster by Artificial Intelligence; from carnivals to catastrophes; from chaos in families to chaos in educational institutions; from the shouting in parliament to the abuses in Churches; from the tyranny of governments to the dictatorship of relativism; from the corruption in power to the appalling gap between the rich and the poor; from rural poverty to dangerous migration; from scavenging in garbage pits to scamming online into bank accounts; from loud music in streets to screaming pastors in churches; from anything but decent dressing to glamourous adornments; from wailing in wars and murders to hysteria in sports…. Are things not falling apart?
Imagine for a moment the global village; different colours one people, one nation under groove, fitted in one place or as a fly on the wall to experience the real daily life in Sudan, Westbank, Ukraine, DRC, Nigeria, Cameroon, India, Pakistan….; in the parliaments in China, UK, Russia, South Africa; in the poverty, evils, riches, fun or pride of LGBTQ!
With these and more, the last thing anyone wants or needs to hear is “The Clown” in Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity, to tell us as seriously as possible on the world stage that the village, the world is on fire, being burnt down, on an irreversible self-destroying rampage. He will either not be taken seriously or be simply burned alive or be hanged himself – Galileo and Thomas More can testify.
Indeed the state of affairs in the world seems to need neither a prophet nor a clown. But who does it need? Perhaps only martyrs? or The Son of Man in the truest and most tangible sense; coming on the clouds? To do what? We are told the reality that In the face of evil and lies, sometimes the only weapon of Truth and love is suffering. And I muse on a few more such quotes by great and humble sages, ever striking a cord:
It is not our mission to save a collapsing world but our job to live our faith!
We are all seafarers, and we are all seasick!
We are all in the same boat and we are all sinking!
Hatred, lies and greed have spoken loudly for so long, love needs to stop whispering!
The most serious sin of our age is the loss of the sense of sin!
The proclamation of the Gospel begins with silence and is cultivated in silence where in weakness, in fear and in trembling, all wars inside us cease.
Yet I find Mother Teresa’s exhortation ever inspiring, ever uplifting, ever purposeful; a quote I use often in Mission Appeals: It is better to light a candle than the curse the darkness; the darkness of suffering, sickness, poverty, corruption, death, sin, embezzlement, injustice, war, violence, evil… as papa Abraham and His descendants in faith did and continue to do in, through and even outside the Church.
And with the great theological virtues of Christian faith, hope and charity, we are ever positive, (knocked down but not destroyed…) life giving and expectant of the new heaven and the new earth, of the end which ushers in a new beginning, of love beyond hatred, of life beyond death, of good above evil, of joy beyond pain and of glory beyond gloom.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope thatthe creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope, we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? (Rom 8: 20 -28)
Just my narrow minded, cave-man’s wandering and wondering if things and people are falling apart in the world – politics, Church, families, education, economy, culture, entertainment, environment, climate, health, technology, media – that is evidently chaotic.
Emmanuel Mbeh MHM, July 2023.