By Archbishop PETERO MATACA
Published in The Fiji Times on Saturday, May 09, 2009
Today there is so much negativity in our world and in our own Fiji. Some people seem to highlight all the things that upset and distress us. Also the economic news we hear from around the world is nothing but gloom and doom. We seem to get a daily destructive diet of "it is going to get worse" calculated to instill fear into us and to take away any sense of hope and peace we may have deep within us.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus had a deep trust and confidence in the goodness and compassion of Abba, his Father, who is always close and who cares for what is happening to His creation especially to those He created to His image and likeness. From that confidence issued a sense of peace and hope. It gave Him a sense of assurance that all would be well even when everything looked dark and hopeless. This sense of confidence and hope in a loving God was with him even on the Cross. As he faced death he could say: "Father I place my life in your hands."
The Risen crucified Christ offered his followers his special greeting of Peace Shalom. Whenever he appeared to them after his resurrection his greeting was always "Peace". In our Christian liturgy, during the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we continue to repeat this message of peace to one another. Peace is so important because it drives out fear and gives us confidence that God is with us in the ups and downs of our lives.
Fearfulness has no place in the life of disciples.
What I am discussing and encouraging is not a false sense of hope based on wishful thinking but a confidence grounded in our firm belief in a God who loves us and cares for us. The surface of the water may be full of waves lashed by the winds, but deep down in the water below there is peace.
If we were to ask what Jesus' mission statement was we might say that it is somehow captured in the term "the kingdom of God". This was the focus of his life and activity. With his life and activity Jesus inaugurated a new way of being, a new way of doing things and a new way of relating to others that would be inclusive, non-discriminatory and non-violent. We are children of a common Father who is Creator God.
Today there is great cause for hope because, all over the world, there are people - Christian, Muslim, Hindus, Buddist and others who want to give birth to new social, political and economic paradigms that are rooted in economic and social justice, respect for human rights, protecting the environment, redistributing wealth and non-violent conflict resolution.
It is to be hoped that the economic collapse that we are experiencing around the world will give rise to a serious re-thinking of economic theories and policies that will be the beginning of a global economic restructuring and rebalancing in favour of greater accountability and social justice.
We must make sure that the economic crisis is not made an excuse to preserve the wealth of the elites and to further add to the problems of the poor and ordinary people in our society.
Today we need more than ever to help one another by sharing our limited resources. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his message for World Peace Day in January 2009: "The conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community. We are called to form one family in which all individuals, peoples and nations model their behaviours according to the principles of fraternity and responsibility."
The evidence of so many conflicts in the world shows that hostility and hatred are no basis for building a better future. The key to a new and better future for us all lies in transcending hatred, animosity, racism and hostility. To build a Fiji where people of different cultural and religious backgrounds can live together in harmony and trust, compassion and sharing we must have love, respect, humility and other centered. Dialogue is an essential step in bringing this about. That means encouraging people to communicate across boundaries and seek reconciliation.
We need to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in the one family of God and live together in harmony sharing the benefits of a world which God entrusted to us for the common good so that no-one lives in poverty and insecurity.
We are to live as decent human beings.
Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara once declared: "Fiji is home to us all." Our challenge is to make this a reality today. For such a dream to be possible we need greater understanding of one another, a deeper sense of forgiveness, and a willingness to search for social justice. We need to listen to one another and build a sense of trust. In a word we need a willingness to change change of heart and a change of attitudes - and openness to new possibilities. We must take seriously the common humanity we share and work for the common good not just the special interests of particular groups. We must create a nation built on love. To do this means that we must face the hard facts of traditional divisions, religious divisions, extreme nationalism, injustice and conflict. In dialogue with others we must seek solutions that will bring reconciliation and change.
It is not easy to build cultural understanding, to share our resources and to change attitudes. But this is the challenge that confronts us today if we are to live in harmony and build a better Fiji together. It requires of us continual struggle in the face of recurring obstacles and disappointments. Above all it requires changes within selves. Only changed people can change the world around them.
A new and better Fiji will begin and grow through the changed attitudes and actions of ordinary people like you and me.
The changed attitudes and actions of chiefs, religious leaders, politicians and business leaders.