Nairobi — 'United and Peaceful Kenya: the change I want to see' is the theme of the Lenten Campaign 2013 that was launched on Saturday 9th February at the Nyayo stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Eucharistic celebration was presided over by His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference and was attended by the Charge d' Affaires at the Nunciature Monsignor Javier Herrera Corona, Bishops from different dioceses in Kenya, several priests, seminarians, sisters and the laity.
47 candles on a map of Kenya were lit to symbolize peace in all the counties.
During the Homily, Cardinal Njue reminded the faithful that Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. "The 40 days of Lent are therefore a journey with Jesus. Lent should not be viewed as an endurance test but as a vital and crucial time of preparation when all energy is directed towards God and hence towards renewal."
He stressed that if Lent is observed in a proper way; the faithful will emerge spiritually stronger and better prepared for the spiritual journey. The Cardinal indicated that fasting is a mode of sacrifice. He stated, "During the Lenten season, the sacrificial element in our worship must be relevant to the world around us. Fasting is nothing more than a healthy form of diet unless it causes us to reflect in such a way as to pay the price of being like Christians in word and actions".
The Cardinal observed that Christians are invited to return to God with all their hearts and to enter into a deeper relationship with God. He further observed that individual sacrifices, words and actions are of value only if they come from the heart and are an expression of love. Cardinal Njue quoted the Prophet Joel saying, "Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love". He called for Christians to repent saying it is only when they have repented will they be in a position to pray for peaceful general elections in Kenya.
His Eminence Cardinal Njue reiterated that after the 2007/8 General Elections, violence erupted in Kenya. Many lives were lost, property was destroyed and thousands of people were displaced. He called on all the faithful to reflect on these events and resolve to have a future where harmony will prevail.
"Let the language of peace be our guide. Follow the word of the Lord: 'I leave you peace, my peace I leave you'". In concluding His Homily, the Cardinal quoted Jesus words "love one another as I have loved you" and reaffirmed to the congregation that it does not matter where each person has come from but only who they have become.
"We remind you that peace is a divine gift which we cannot afford to lose. In fact our stable economic, social and religious well being will always depend on prevailing peace. We should avoid falling into the same pitfalls that almost destroyed our country," said the cardinal.
The Lenten campaign focused on peace in Kenya in light of the forthcoming General elections which will be held on March 4, 2013. There were several presentations on peace the most notable being by 6-year old Faith Wanjala from Nakuru diocese who took to the stage and wowed the congregation with a poem on peace, challenging the faithful to maintain peace as she waved a miniature Kenyan flag.