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 7 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.

Reflection for Friday 7 August. Intimacy or Union with God

In his most recent newsletter sent out on 3 August, Archbishop Brislin noted that with the infection rate starting to decline, we are in a position to slowly ease our way back into public worship in the Archdiocese of Cape Town taking all the precautionary measures that are necessary. This calls for great discipline – a word strongly related to the word “disciple”. Indeed without discipline one cannot be a disciple of Jesus. Our appeal is for people to register with their Parish offices and to be generous in allowing as many as possible to attend Mass on a rotational basis. For the duration of the pandemic the faithful may consider a weekday Mass as fulfillment of their Sunday obligation. Perhaps in this way we can get to know how people in remote outstations around the world survive with Mass once a month or once every six weeks.

While social distancing becomes the order of the day, we are challenged to seek ways of showing solidarity with each other. Physically we have to be separated but the very act of separation, our helplessness, our lack of mobility and our lack of freedom place us all in the same boat. In all of this we discover that we can only turn to God “I lift up my eyes to the mountain from whence shall come my help” (Psalm 120). The mountain is a symbol of an encounter with God. The opportunity inside of this crisis is that we can focus on God and deepen our union with the Divine. I am reminded of the words we say when we add a drop of water to the wine at Mass: “by the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity”. 

We are made for union with God but our increasing tendency toward commodifying our lives shifts our focus. In this regard Covid-19 is pressing the reset button. We do not have to compete with the neighbour about who has the better house, car, fashion sense, etc. The neighbour is no longer a threat to me and no longer should be seen as a hostile competitor in an unholy race for material gain. We are all in the same boat as the Coronavirus shatters artificial barriers.

Last Friday I spoke about God’s unfathomable love for each of us. Today I want to emphasise that intimacy with God is what we ought to seek. We are fond of asking people to pray for us and we often pray for others. That is a good practice and we should never stop it. But how nice it would be if, in addition to that, we could make time for alone-ness with God on a regular basis. It all starts with a longing for God cf. Psalm 42 and Psalm 63. 

Perhaps a short preacher’s story can help make the point of direct intimacy with God: A man loved a woman but was transferred to another town. He wrote her a letter every day reminding her of his undying love. This went on for three years and when he returned to the original place he discovered that she had moved. The neighbours told him that she had married a week before and moved house. He was shocked to find out that she married the mailman who delivered his letters for three years. The point in all this is that we cannot have a remote relationship with God through someone else’s prayers. We have to practice intimacy with God on a regular basis and do it first hand.

Let us pray: Loving God your word tells us just how much you long for intimacy with us and yet we find so many trappings to hide from you. Help us to make time each day to spend a few minutes with you so that your love could shine in us. We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Blessing].