Fr. James Ayaga, SJ, is a Jesuit Priest from the Eastern Africa Province. He is currently a doctoral student at Creighton University, a Jesuit University. He is also the principal of Mazzolari Teachers College, in the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan. Besides doing administrative work, James is also a part-time teacher at the Catholic University of Rumbek, South Sudan.
Showing the way to God is one of the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus.
Now, more than ever, the need to show the people of God the way to God is a Kairos moment. There is a palpable restlessness in the hearts and minds of men and women in our world today about the meaning of life.
How can I make the most of my life without causing more harm? How best can I relate to other people and the environment around me in a loving, caring, and life-giving way?
Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, says in the Gospel of Saint John, chapter 10:10 that his mission is clear. He has come that we “may have life, life in abundance.”
Living life in its fullness demands that one attaches oneself to the author of life – the Father of Our Lord Christ Jesus – who is also Our Father.
For the sophisticated and technologically advanced societies, men and women have sought an explanation of this restlessness in psychology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and spirituality.
To an unsophisticated society, like mine here in South Sudan, the explanation of restlessness is found in narrow identities and relationships. The intercommunal relationships are characterised by conflict, violence, cattle raiding, and revenge killings.
The Jesuits of Eastern Africa have taken the mission of showing people the way to God as more urgent than ever. This mission is carried out by helping the people of God by educating children and the youth through formal education.
For example, the Jesuits run a kindergarten school, two primary schools, a secondary school, a vocational school, and a teacher training college. The parishes organise catechism for children and youths, offering spiritual accompaniment to religious and diocesan clergy, retreats, and recollections for the youth and adults.
All these efforts aim at showing people the way to God and growing a people’s sense of identity to acknowledge, recognise, and accommodate people from other ethnic groups.
The challenge is massive. Establishing a community characterised by care for the environment, the refugees, the neighbours, and the vulnerable people in the community is both our short-term and long-term goal.
The Jesuits have to start from somewhere as a way of starting the fire that kindles other fires. Our hearts and minds are ready and willing to see God’s work to their fruition.
Prophet Hosea warned long ago that faithfulness and loyalty to God in any land is premised upon the knowledge of God in the land. The absence of knowledge of God can only mean one thing: “My people are perishing for lack of knowledge”.
We pray with Psalm number 139 and ask our Lord, Christ Jesus, to “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”