Prayer and Reflection by Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 26th June 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.

The cleansing of the leper in Matthew 8:1-4.

Jesus had come down from the mountain and immediately encounters human need in the form of a leper. Lepers in those days were the untouchables of society. A leper was just one step away from being a corpse. Anyone who touched a leper was rendered unclean and not fit for worship in the Temple. When Jesus reached out his hand and touched the leper, he once and for all dismissed the notion of untouchability within the human community, saying in effect that there should be no untouchability among us. The word translated “cured” and “healed” in the text literally reads “cleansed” in the original and it is used three times in the space of the four verses of the gospel passage for today. Since all of us need to have clean water poured over us (Ezekiel 36:25) does not the leper reside inside each of us?

But back to the untouchability – where does it exist today? On a literal level with the need for social distancing all of us have become untouchable. But on the level of faith even though we are physically separated, we are all in the same boat – there is one faith, one Lord and one Baptism (Ephesians 4:5). In terms of Christian charity when we reach out to the poor and the starving we imitate Jesus. In verse three of today’s passage Jesus “stretches out” his hand to touch the leper. Hands turned inward can never serve others.

There are many in the Archdiocese and many friends of the Church from beyond our boundaries who have contributed to the feeding of the poor. They have stretched out their hands in the direction of those who suffer. We are grateful to them for touching the untouchables of our society. May you be richly blessed as your hands bring healing to the lepers of our time – even if the help is marked by social distancing. At this time the words of the mystic St Teresa of Avila ring true: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassionately on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Let us pray: God our loving and caring Father, your Son still lives among us – at times touching the lives of others with our hands and at other times he is present in those who suffer. Help us to meaningfully acknowledge his presence through our sharing and caring. Give us the strength to stretch out our hands in the direction of those who are needy. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town

Spirituality in a Pandemic

We’re looking forward to our second take with the amazing Fr Peter-John Pearson as he chats to us about spirituality during our live faith sharing session. Please join us at 8pm via the Archdiocese of Cape Town Youth Facebook page @Catholicyouthct

Prayer and Reflection by Archbishop Stephen Brislin

Archbishop Stephen Brislin offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Wednesday 24 June 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.  It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf. 

As we enter into an intense period in the Western Cape, when we are going to witness a rise in the number of Covid-19 infections and a rise in the death rate, we turn with confidence to the Lord our God to guide us through this pandemic and to lead us into the ways in which he wishes us to walk. Today’s celebration commemorating the birth of St John the Baptist, reminds us particularly of the presence of God in the world and that his plan for redemption continues to unfold. In the First Reading of today’s Mass, from the Prophet Isaiah, we hear these words:

And now the Lord says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him (Isaiah 49).

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, creator of all that lives and has its being, we thank and praise you for the gift of life, for you, Father, are indeed the source of all life. In our sinfulness we do much harm to creation which you have entrusted us, but you do not desert us and you continue to call us to the restoration of creation as you intended it to be. Be close to us especially now, as we face many anxieties and uncertainties, and lead us to live our faith by promoting life and wholeness, always respecting the beauty and dignity of all that exists. We make this prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

Over the past few decades there has been a deepening understanding and awareness of the rights common to every human being. In more recent times, the consciousness of the need to protect and respect the environment has also grown – life depends on the earth which God has created. For we who are Christian, such an understanding of the dignity of life and the rights of people, is not a mere human philosophy or a political understanding of a human rights culture. It flows from our faith, from what we know and believe about God’s creation, about the meaning of life and about our role as human beings to which the world has been entrusted. All life is from God and life has been given through the Word, Jesus Christ. In the words of St John: Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him (Jn 1:3). Life is no accident, and nothing lives without having been brought to life by God. John the Baptist’s birth was fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and he was chosen to be the one who would “prepare the way of the Lord”, to call people to repentance and to turn once again to God. In the words of his father, Zechariah,: as for you little child, you will be called prophet of God the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare a way for him (Luke 1:76). It is not only St John the Baptist who was chosen by the Lord – we fundamentally believe that everyone has life because God wishes it to be so. We are part of God’s plan.

Life is a miracle. It is a miracle we take for granted because of familiarity – we are accustomed to other living beings and other human beings. And yet, the birth of every child is a miracle. You, too, are a miracle created by God. Our bodies, the bodies of all animals and, indeed, all life is miraculous. Your body continues to function in thousands of ways without you even being aware of it – I suppose it is only when things go wrong with our bodies that we realise how much we took it for granted.

How scandalous it is, then, when we lose our respect for life and for the dignity of all creatures, but most especially human beings. In South Africa we are continually shocked and scandalized by the ongoing violence against women and children. In the United States the “Black lives matter” movement has gained momentum and has spread throughout the world. It is not as if people are saying that it is only Black lives that matter, or the lives of women and children – it is because of the particularly heinous crimes acted out on the vulnerability of people and discrimination against them. Such violence is not only anti-social but it is anti-God, as all violence is. We have a right to defend ourselves but we do not have a right to perpetrate violence. One of the greatest forms of violence – and one which many people take for granted and exclude from a “human rights” understanding – is the violence against the unborn. Millions are aborted annually.

The point is that as people of faith we promote life holistically – at all stages of life and for all people – from womb to tomb and without discrimination. This pandemic has made us aware of this as we become more and more conscious of the fact that other people’s health depends on us. Managing the virus is a life issue and that is why the Church is urging us more and more to be responsible in our behaviour and to embrace the behaviour change that is necessary to protect the lives of others. Let us re-commit ourselves to open our eyes and to marvel at the wonder of creation and the miraculous works of God, that we may promote and defend all life including the very earth itself.

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you                                                                  R/ And with your spirit

Heavenly Father, look kindly on your people as we continue to struggle through these painful times. Open our hearts anew, O Lord, that we may be guided by you to recognize your miraculous works and to never take them for granted. Keep us in your love, Lord, keep our families and loved ones safe, and be close to us especially when things grow dark. Through Christ Our Lord, amen.

May Almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, amen.

Youth Quiz Night

Calling all Youth! Don’t forget about our Quiz Night tonight, we’d love to see you there! Please register by emailing us at youthchaplaincy@gmail.com to receive the info to join. See all the details below.

Youth Day Mass

Our Youth Day Mass has always been one of the highlights of the year and despite the current pandemic, 2020 will be no different!

This year we are having an Interdiocesan celebration with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Stephen Brislin and encouraging messages from Bishop Risi, Bishop Jan, Bishop Stanley and our SACBC Youth Chaplain, Fr Mthembeni. We will also be including readers and choir members representing various clusters from our Bishops’ Conference.

Please encourage your youth, young adults and youth leader groups to join us at 11am via the Archdiocese of Cape Town Youth Facebook page @Catholicyouthct