On Advent season in Iramba Parish in Tanzania I wanted to
emphasize the importance of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus
Christ’s birth at Christmas. In looking for an analogy to the local Christians’
lives I chose a comparison that I thought was clever, but did it ever backfire!
In my homily for the Second Sunday of Advent I used the example of government
officials and police who would visit Iramba before President Julius Nyerere came
on an official visit to this rural part of Mara Region. I drew the clear
parallel between these officials and policemen “preparing the way” (security,
advance arrangements, etc.) for the president just as John the Baptist prepares
the way for Jesus Christ. It seemed all so clear and simple to me.
After celebrating the first mass at Iramba Centre I
immediately drove one hour to a distant outstation to celebrate the second mass.
Returning in the afternoon some local people waved me to stop on the outskirts
of Iramba village. They asked me if I had heard the big news. I said “No” and
they went on excitedly to explain: “The President is coming, the President is
coming. Nyerere will visit Iramba on Christmas Day.” Surprised, I asked: “Where
did you hear that? They enthusiastically answered: “The Catholics said that the
Padri announced the news at Mass this morning.”
So much for what I thought was a great comparison.