Please understand that I use the word slum because that is what the inhabitants of Kibera use to describe where they live.
This is the second half of my reflection after visiting the Kibera slum. At the top of the hill within the Kibera slum is Christ the King Church. Unlike all the shacks in the slum, The simple church is built on a concrete foundation. The slum properties are all rented but the church owns the small parcel on which the church is built. On Sunday morning when we arrived we climbed the hill to the church with hundreds of other people from the slum to celebrate Sunday morning liturgy. The journey up that hill through the crowded streets littered with garbage and wet from the recent rain was like no journey I have ever been on.
The church was jam packed with over 1500 men women and children. They were dressed in the very best clothes they had. I was amazed that they could keep their clothes and shoes so clean on the dirt floors in the simple huts in which they lived. The two hour mass was a celebration marked with vibrant singing, dancing, and signs and symbols that filled the senses and evoked a spirit of community in Christ Jesus It was quite a role reversal to be in a congregation of thousands of people of color. The nine of us on pilgrimage were the only white faces in the sea of black. Yet I never felt separate, alone, or excluded. Rather the assembly extended the warmest welcome and the most gracious hospitality to each of us.
Unlike so many liturgies, this one was marked by joy, contagious joy overflowing. It may be because the African people are people of joy but it also may just be that in the midst of such a squalor, The good news of the gospel and the precious gift of the Eucharist finds fertile ground in the open hearts of God’s people.
How fitting it is that this church is called Christ the King. Christ the king presides over this slum. Christ the king lives in this slum. Christ the king will one day transform this slum into the city of God. The people of Christians of Kiberawho are model disciples of Jesus who love him with their whole heart, their whole mind, and with all their strength. That is why they come to church dressed for the banquet. That is why they can go back down that hill and face each day with hope that God’s reign of peace and justice will come.
Encouraged by their expectant faith, I left Kibera with joy and And hope that little by little God’s rain will rule over my heart and the hearts of all those on the journey.
Prayer for this day: Lord give me eyes to see what you see for our world. Lord give me ears to listen to the cries of the poor which are your cries. Lord let me never forget that what we see now will be transformed into what you see. Give me the grace to see your holy mountain set up on a hill and work so that every person on this planet may see the view from the mountaintop. Amen.