Every Friday, for the duration of the lockdown in South Africa, Bishop Sylvester David OMI will present a reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town (and beyond). In turn, Archbishop Stephen Brislin will present a reflection on every Wednesday of the lockdown. Here is Bishop Sylvester’s reflection for today, Friday 27 March 2020. The text of his reflection is below the video.
Reflection for Friday 27th March 2020
Good morning my Brothers and Sisters and welcome to the chapel in my home in Cape Town. The last line of today’s Gospel passage tells us that they wanted to arrest Jesus. Well, right now we in South Africa and in many other parts of the world are arrested. We are under house arrest with the COVID-19 shutdown and this is only the first of at least 21 days. This is a rather difficult time – we are literally in the desert with Jesus during this Lent. Apart from family prayer time, meal times, work from home times, etc. most homes will experience a restlessness. The way out for me is to develop a spirituality of restlessness. We often think of the calm nature of prayer and at times even use calming music during our meditation times but restlessness, helplessness, and even despair ought to be natural to our spirituality simply because these aspects are inescapable parts of our human existence. Read the third chapter of Ecclesiastes and see what is written there. And so as we embrace this difficult time let us remember that there is a time for everything under the sun. And right now is a time of doubt, fear and restlessness. Perhaps this can help us feel a little more authentically what the house bound and bed ridden people feel like. Perhaps as we anticipate Good Friday we can already see what Jesus must have gone through in the garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane literally means an olive oil press and here Jesus was preparing to be crushed so as to produce the oil of salvation. Gethsemane is a rich symbol of mental and spiritual suffering and so as we go there with Jesus, let us stay with him, keeping watch and praying (Mt 26:40-46).
I will pray and contemplate more, re-read Fr Ron Rolheiser’s “The Passion and the Cross” and also a book called “Sabbath” by Wayne Muller. These are easy reads and for those who need the exact titles I will put the written text of this video on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s webpage. Kindle is rather helpful at this time. May God strengthen you, your homes, your families and your communities during these difficult days. 21 days is a long time, but if we use it meaningfully, it can produce much fruit.