The HIV/Aids epidemic sweeping across southern Africa cannot alone be blamed for this—especially as recent figures show a slight drop in HIV infection rates in Zimbabwe. Our correspondent says the key reason behind the drop in Zimbabwe's average life expectancy is the fall in the standard of living, triggered by an economic crisis.Jesus came to give healing to the sick and hope to the poor. Yet 2,000 years after his death and resurrection, we humans still find ways to inflict suffering on one another with startling frequency.
The problems of Zimbabwe are a complex mix of issues created in part by a corrupt leader and an initial cultural inability to deal frankly with a disease transmitted primarily through non-monagamous sexual contact. But the problems they face do not belong to Zimbabwe alone. We in America also struggled with how to come to terms with AIDS when the epidemic hit here. And we too face problems with unchecked greed as the recent trial of Enron's executives shows.
No, the problems that we see so clearly defined with the rapidly lowering life expectancy of Zimbabwe stem from Sin. This is Sin, with a capital "S" not sins, as in the things we do wrong, but Sin as in a world turned fundamentally against God. And so the problems faced in that African nation are our problems too as this side of the Kingdom of God, we will struggle with the suffering we cause one another.
The gift of Palm Sunday and its reading of Jesus' own suffering and death is that it reveals how deeply God cares about the pain and suffering of this world. We can know through scripture that not one of those lives cut short in Zimbabwe goes unmourned by God. For God so loved the people of Zimbabwe that he gave his only son. He gave his son not that they might have a life that is "nasty, brutish and short" as one philospher put it, but that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church