“BEHOLD, I AM DOING SOMETHING NEW” (ISAIAH 43: 18- 19)
During October 3 – 24, 2021, I happened to be one of the Secretaries in the 21st General Chapter of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit held near my home in Bagamoyo Tanzania. The theme of the General Chapter was “Behold, I am doing something new (Isaiah 43: 19)”. For me, it was my first time to attend a General Chapter and I realized that God was doing something new in my life. Being in the General Chapter, I not only experienced what the General Chapter was like, but I also experienced how God renews an institution by giving it a new vision, a new focus, and a new direction in a special way and at a particular time.
As the 3-week Chapter progressed, God continued to do something new. For the first time in history of the Congregation, the delegates elected Fr. Alain Mayama, C.S.Sp from Congo Brazzaville (Africa) as the new Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit Worldwide (Spiritans). A word went out among delegates that “Behold, I am doing something new (Isaiah 43: 18-19)”.
When I arrived in Pittsburgh and then Detroit, it was my first time in North America, I continued to observe how God does something new for His people. In the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Family of Parishes Model was introduced as a response to Synod 16 which called for a complete renewal of structures to make parishes “radically mission oriented.” The goal was to make parishes places where individuals and families could encounter Jesus anew, grow as disciples, and be equipped to be witnesses to the Risen Christ. Archbishop Vigneron, writing a Pastoral Note on Families of Parishes, “Led by the Spirit on Mission” insisted that “Our focus is on the renewal of our parishes and schools to align all resources to our mission of sharing Christ in southeast Michigan.”
Whenever there is a change, the tendency is to hold onto the “status quo” out of fear that the future will trigger unprecedented reactions. Sometimes grumbling takes over instead of listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. When the prophet Isaiah wrote to God’s people in captivity in Babylon, they became aware that the past glory that they thought they would keep forever was gone. Their unfaithfulness triggered fear whether God would keep His promises. They cried out to God for forgiveness so that He would hear and deliver them. Isaiah’s message was quit looking behind and forget the former things of the past and focus on the future with hope. He called them to focus on what God is doing – God’s love and mercy for them through the One who is to come – the Messiah.
Gone are the days when Christendom flourished greatly, when Catholics flocked into churches, priests were readily available for every parish, and missionaries were abundant at the services of the local church. As we begin the new year, 2024, God is telling us “Forget the former things. . . behold I am doing something new”. It is important to let the past go and ask God to reveal to us something new that He is doing in our families and Faith Community – the Church. Indeed, God says “Behold, I am doing something new! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Our emotional, spiritual, and relational attachment to the past glory or failures can greatly obstruct us from seeing something new that God is doing in the local and Universal Church. The fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophesy is the birth of Jesus in human history who gives His people a new vision and direction. He continues to give His Church new vision and direction all the time. Let us allow Jesus, newly born in our hearts, to make a way in our “wilderness” and streams in our ‘wasteland” and thus embrace God’s opportunity to start over and experience great spiritual blessings throughout the year.
Mary Mother of the Church, Pray for us!
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2024
By Rev. Fr. Godfrey Mgonja, C.S.Sp
Pastor/Priest In Solidum, Old St. Mary’s