The following Independence Day message is by Roman Catholic Bishop Neil Scantlebury on behalf of the diocese.
On this special occasion, I greet you in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Happy Independence and Republic Day!
The month of November carries great significance for the Roman Catholic Church, as well as Barbados. On November 20th, the Church acknowledged and celebrated Jesus as King of the Universe and, on the 27th of November, the season of Advent began.
This is a period when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and also ready themselves for His second coming. We are asked to focus on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love during Advent.
As we mark these milestones of 56 years of Independence and one year as a Republic, I want to encourage all Barbadians to take a pause from the treadmills of their lives and reflect deeply on hope, peace, joy and love. We should each examine closely our history and our present, and contemplate our future. Our history is unchangeable but our future is not. We have within our hands the God-given ability to shape our future and we must not take this lightly.
Present-day Barbados is not on the trajectory that will benefit our future generations. Each and every Barbadian should therefore use this period of national significance to think about how they can truly transform Barbados into the gem of not only the Caribbean but the world.
Today I want to focus on peace. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with you and me.
Our beautiful country is under attack from an unprecedented increase in crime, domestic and mental abuse, and disrespect. Murders are plaguing our society. We must ask ourselves deep questions about the reasons why our young people, mainly our young men, are at war with each other. Why are conflicts ending in bloodshed and loss of life? Are the basic teachings of God no longer taking root in the hearts of men?
To the young men of Barbados, think before you act. Try to use peaceful ways to resolve conflicts. Think of what your actions will do to your family, your children and your future. The pain of losing a loved one due to murder is huge and long lasting.
The use of a knife or gun to settle a disagreement is not the right way. Oftentimes, when we hear the reasons for fights that end in death, it is plain to see that better judgement, forgiveness and reconciliation would have saved lives. My Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to call on the grace of God when you are confronted with difficulties in your life. Christ is the answer, not taking matters into your own hands and taking the life of someone. We are losing too many young people to violence.
As a society, we seem to be turning our backs to God and trying to progress without Him as our guide. Be warned that we are not that independent. We need God. It is by obeying the teachings of God that we have made great achievements. We need God. We need strong families. We need families who are built on the word of God, on sacred scripture.
As our nation moves into the future, we must be careful not to uproot the very things that have made us who we are. Church was central in the lives of past generations. It was the churches that helped cultivate the core values of life in our nation. Barbados is founded on the teachings of God. These teachings and Christian values need to be revived in our homes and our schools.
As we celebrate our nationhood, let us continue to place God at the centre of everything we do. Let there be peace in Barbados and let it start today with you and me.
God Bless Bim! (PR)