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 16 October 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 16 October 2020. Luke 12:1-7.

In this reflection I want to look only at one verse – and even there only at two words. It is a biblical catechesis of sorts which hopefully can help our understanding of what Jesus teaches us.

The previous chapter describes the hostility which the Scribes and Pharisees showed towards Jesus. It ended with them provoking him and waiting to catch him out on something he might say. Undeterred by this hostility Jesus continued to speak his truth. Today’s passage starts with him warning his disciples to “guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – that is their hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). In order to understand clearly what Jesus is saying we need to explore two words viz. “yeast” and “hypocrisy”. The word for yeast was a common term in the time of Jesus simply because, unlike in our time when we rely on supermarkets and spaza shops for bread, almost every home made bread. Yeast was thus an important facet in their daily lives. This was not like our store bought yeast but was a piece of old sour dough which was left to ferment and was used in a new batch as a rising agent. The fermenting process involved a distinct element of corruption. This is what the disciples are cautioned against. A small amount of fermented yeast could influence the entire loaf. 

This was the danger associated with the Pharisees. Perhaps a modern example would be when one buys a pocket of potatoes and one potato in the middle of the sack is rotten. What happens? All the potatoes around it become spoilt and it starts to smell bad. This is how corruption can influence a community. According to Jesus, the corruption of the Pharisees was seen in their hypocrisy. The word hypocrisy literally means “to reply” and came from the Greek theatre. In the early days values and morals were passed on through educational plays held in public squares. The actors were so good that when looking at their masks, one could not tell whether they were male or female, old or young, child or adult. Without un-masking them one could not know. This word is used only once in the Hebrew scriptures where it connotes ungodliness (Isaiah 32:6). The Pharisees were considered to be deceptive because they rendered false explanations of the Torah, i.e. the first five books of the Bible. They were ungodly.

It is good to know all this but what does it means for us living in the middle of a pandemic? It is true that every crisis, apart from the danger, also presents us with an opportunity. The opportunity during Covid-19 is that we could become more reflective. In fact there is no escape. I am forced to face myself. Reflection is not always a pleasant experience. Sometimes it can cause us great un-ease as some aspects of our lives can disappoint us. 

How has corruption influenced me? Do I make money out of the misfortune of others – perhaps by paying unjust wages? What is my deepest yearning for? Is it for the things of God and the values of God or do I seek self glorification? When speaking of hypocrisy – one immediately thinks of politicians who make false promises. But are they the only ones? What are my masks and why do I wear them? In our passage for today Jesus continues to say that the time will come when we will all be unmasked. How nice if there were no surprises when the unmasking happens.

Let us pray: Lord we recall that when your Son saw Nathaniel, he referred to him as a person in whom there was no deceit. Send us your Spirit of Truth so that we too can be counted among the pure in heart. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Blessing].

Fratelli Tutti

Fraternity and social friendship are the ways the Pontiff indicates to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with the contribution of all: people and institutions. With an emphatic confirmation of a ‘no’ to war and to globalized indifference. 

What are the great ideals but also the tangible ways to advance for those who wish to build a more just and fraternal world in their ordinary relationships, in social life, politics and institutions?

This is mainly the question that Fratelli Tutti is intended to answer: the Pope describes it as a “Social Encyclical” (6) which borrows the title of the “Admonitions” of Saint Francis of Assisi, who used these words to “address his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel” (Par 1). The Encyclical aims to promote a universal aspiration toward fraternity and social friendship. In the background of the Encyclical is the Covid-19 pandemic which, Francis reveals, “unexpectedly erupted” as he “was writing this letter”. But the global health emergency has helped demonstrate that “no one can face life in isolation” and that the time has truly come to “dream, then, as a single human family” in which we are “brothers and sisters all” (Par 8).

You can read or download the encyclical here:

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 14 October 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.

Welcome to this reflection in the month of October, when we continue to remember Mary our Mother, and to request her intercession – she who always shows her love and care for us.

In the First Reading of today’s Mass, from the letter of St Paul to the Galatians (5:18-25), we hear of the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, after the Ascension of your Son Jesus, you sent your gift of the Holy Spirit on your people, the Spirit that is not of timidity but is the Spirit of power, love and self-control. Touch our hearts, we pray O Lord, with your loving tenderness, that we may open them to the power of your Holy Spirit and so may surrender ourselves completely to you, and so be your faithful instruments of goodness, grace and unity to all those we encounter. We make this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever, amen.

St Paul contrasts the fruit of the Holy Spirit with the “works of the flesh”, such as immorality, impurity, strife, jealousy, anger, dissension and selfishness. The root of the “works of the flesh” is self-indulgence characterised by disregard for the needs of others. Because the “self” has become the centre of attention and gratification, it can only lead to disunity, conflict, jealousy and anger, as each individual “self” seeks to gratify itself with no concern for the other. On the other hand, if we are living by the Spirit and walking by the Spirit, it is God who is the centre of our attention and activity. We therefore live for him, as St Paul once put it, For in him we live and move and have our being (Act 17:28). Centering our lives on God, who we always approach through Jesus Christ, means that our relationship with others changes. We remember the very well known words of St John (1Jn 4:20), If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen, and again in his Gospel (Jn 13:35) he relates the words of Jesus, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Through faith the Spirit frees us from slavery of the law, through which we cannot be saved, to faith-filled liberating love. So we are all faced with this fundamental choice in our lives – what is the focus of my existence, what do I centre my life on? Is it on self, in which case I just want to take for myself, or is it on God in which case I want to give to him and others? Am I a giver or a taker? For most of us, it is not purely one or the other, it is a mixture of both We are often willing to focus on God and be a generous giver, but in reality we fail by taking in order to satisfy our need for self-gratification.

We are all gifted people and God has bestowed on us many different gifts. Perhaps we become too conscious of the gifts we don’t have and would like to have, rather than the wonderful and powerful gifts the Holy Spirit has shared with us. It is in allowing those gifts to grow and to use them for the benefit of others that enables us to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit that St Paul enumerates in the First Reading. And we are able to put those gifts to good use when we allow the Spirit to take possession of us, and allow his fire to light up our lives into an enthusiastic and passionate desire to do the will of God. In the routine of life, and in the routine of the practice of our faith, it is so easy to allow our Christianity to become mundane, lukewarm and without any spark to it. Much more is expected of us in our relationship with God who has created us, who has given life to the world and allows us to share in the fruits of the earth and who, indeed, sent his only Son into the world for our redemption. When we recognize the extent of God’s love for us we cannot be left indifferent or untouched – we must allow his love to liberate our hearts to respond to his love and it is the Spirit that enable us to do that. As St Paul says in his letter to the Romans (5:5), the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and motivated by our love for God, we are meant to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. It is not beyond our capacity to do so, it requires simply the will and the decision to keep on trying and, where we fail, to try even harder in the future. The fact of the matter is that we do bear fruit in our lives – it may not be evident to us and we may not always recognize it. Ultimately, we are but the sowers of the seed and the harvest of fruit belongs to the Lord. So, in faith we continue, knowing that it is the fruits of the Spirit – the fruits that we are asked to bear – that bring about change among those around us and contribute to the growth of God’s Kingdom even as we continue to live in the reality of the earthly realm. We should never tire of doing what is good (cf. 2 Thes 3:13).

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you R./ And with your spirit

May God, the Father of all light, who sent his wondrous flame upon his disciples, powerfully cleanse your hearts so that, in unity in the profession of one faith and through your perseverance, he may enlighten you, grant you gladness by his blessing and make you abound with the gifts of the same Spirit, through Christ our Lord, amen.

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

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 9 October 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 9 October 2020. Luke 11:14-26

Perhaps it will be good to start with some biblical catechesis before I get to the main point of this reflection. In verse 15, we come across the word Beelzebul. This is the only mention of this name in Luke’s Gospel. The name comes from the Canaanite idol Baal and Luke uses it as a synonym for Satan. In verse 16, we read that they asked Jesus for a sign in order to test him. The word used indicates hostility. In other words they asked him for a sign not to learn from his response but to trip him up. This happens at strategic points in the gospel story. In the context of having cast out a demon as shown in our present passage, the Gospel reader will undoubtedly remember the Devil trying to trip Jesus up by asking for signs and demonstrations (Luke 4:1-12). The same verb is used in that text.

Okay, now for the main point. In verse 23, Jesus says that anyone who is not for him is against him. That simply means that in Christianity there is no fence sitting. Christianity is not a religion of neutrality nor of mediocrity. It is not only about avoiding evil – it is more about actively doing good. We are either for Christ, or we are against him. This is not ideology. It refers to our lifestyle. We have the Gospel as a template against which to measure our lifestyle. Do we forgive as we are asked to? Do we share our bread with the hungry? Do we attend to those who are marginalised? In the previous chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus once and for all dismisses the myth that the neighbour has to be just like me. Allow me to refer to a text I posted on Facebook on 5 October 2020, commenting on the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

I pointed out that this is probably one of the most well known stories in the New Testament which teaches a powerful lesson on being non-partisan. In spite of knowing the story so well it boggles the mind to find so much partisanship in the world of today. There are insiders and outsiders. We see this clearly in the worlds of politics, religion, commerce, neighbourhoods, country clubs, car ownership, health status, professional status and sport.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus puts an end to partisan affiliations which exclude others. Notice that the religious people – those who knew the catechism of their day, refused to show mercy but the Samaritan who in effect was an untouchable, imitated God by showing mercy and going beyond the call of duty. Jesus teaches that the neighbour is not only those who look like me, think like me, live in my neighbourhood, believe what I do, worship like me, eat like me, and support the same political heroes and sporting clubs that I do. No – none of these is important. The neighbour is anyone in need. Without this kind of mindset, I run the risk of turning Jesus into an outsider who is not welcome in my circles.

This is exactly what happened when the crowds accused Jesus of being inspired by the prince of demons. They turned him into an outsider. I wish you joy as we declare by our way of life that we are for Jesus and not against him.

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town.

Season of Creation 2020

This is what a Spirit-filled movement looks like: 

  • Thousands of Catholics uniting with the global Christian family
  • More than 1,300 hope-providing events around the world
  • 243 Catholic partners leading their communities
  • 1 inspirational Pope Francis showing the way

Thank you. During the Season of Creation, you and thousands of your Catholic sisters and brothers provided hope and inspiration to the world’s 2.4 billion Christians. Thank you.

Catholics everywhere united to pray and reflect on the season on Sunday, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. But this is hardly the end. Below you’ll find videos and stories that inspire and show how Catholics on six continents have committed to radically new ways of living with creation.

Blessings,

Christina Leaño
Associate Director, GCCM

The fact that Pope Francis chose the Feast of St Francis to publish Fratelli Tutti is continuing his urgent and clear call for humanity to come together and start a new leg of this important journey.  A journey, as a  brother or sister,  to Care for our Common Home with a deeper awareness of our relationship with creation and an even closer relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters (Fratelli Tutti 2).  

We all realise that this call is for now, as we pause at the crossroad created by the Coronavirus pandemic and the Ecological Crisis.  There is no time to lose.  We need to have loud voices that become one strong irresistible voice sharing this message now. 

Grateful thanks to all of you who are part of making this Season of Creation such a success.

How immensely proud we were of the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Dominique Yon, who was the moderator at the International Youth Webinar for the Season of Creation. Do please watch her in action here – she made Cape Town proud!

The young people of the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, DRC and Anglican Churches of Cape Town have formed a group which worked together during the Season of Creation and have called themselves #together4creation we pray that they may go from strength to strength.  Their facebok page is https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=together4creation

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 7 October 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.

Welcome to this reflection. Today we celebrate the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary. The rosary has a deep and special meaning for me personally, as it does for many people. Some parishes are dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and so I wish all parishes who celebrate their patronal feast today all God’s blessings.

Let us start, as usual, with a verse from the Gospel of today, from St Luke (11:1-40):

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples”.

Let us pray:

Pour forth, we beseech you O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel may, by his Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of the Resurrection, through  the same Christ Our Lord, amen

Jesus was a person of prayer. We frequently hear in the Gospels how he would spend time alone praying, or going to the synagogue. Those around Jesus must have been influenced by the depth of Jesus’ prayer life and so the disciple we heard about in today’s Gospel asked Jesus to teach them to pray Jesus taught them the prayer which we continue to use to the present day, the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father”. 

“Teach us to pray”, said the disciple. A fundamental part of the ministry of the Church is to teach people to pray.  It is the responsibility of priests and deacons to teach people to pray but, in fact, it is the responsibility of all, most especially parents. Our ability to pray, and our desire to pray, arises first and foremost in the family, and it is prayer that binds a family together and enables them to meet with faith whatever life brings to them. 

Of all the many types of prayers available to us and the many ways of making ourselves present to God, the rosary shines out as one of the most beautiful and enriching of all prayers. It is a prayer that has been taught by the Church for centuries and it is known to date back to at least the 9th century in various forms Tradition has it that the rosary was given to St Dominic in 1214 in an apparition know as “Our Lady of the Rosary”. Certainly, it is a prayer that was promoted by the Dominicans through the centuries. Today’s feast was declared by Pope Pius V in 1571 to celebrate the defeat of the Turkish fleet at Lepanto. Successive Popes, saints and theologians have promoted the use of the Rosary as being a powerful and efficacious prayer. St Francis de Sales, for example, said that The greatest method of praying is to pray the rosary and Pope St John Paul II described the rosary as his favourite prayer. So what is it about praying the rosary that makes it so special and so powerful? There are at least 5 points that come to mind.

Firstly, the rosary – just as with the celebration of Holy Mass – is based on Scripture. The mysteries are not human constructs, but they are given to us in the Bible, which is the foundation of our faith. The Church continues to teach and give teachings in the light of modern life and new experiences, but the roots of those teachings are in Scripture and the tradition of the Church. In praying the Rosary we remain faithful to Scripture and that tradition.

Secondly, it is a Christ-centred prayer, focussing on the life of Christ and the culmination of God’s great acts of salvation history for the redemption of the world. This prayer, more than any other, helps us to remember and concentrate on the life of Christ, his teaching and his self-giving. It re-affirms our faith in the Incarnation, the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, as well as our faith in the great gift of the Holy Spirit. Some may say, what about the Marian mysteries – Mary Assumed in to heaven, and Mary crowned Queen of heaven? But these as well help us to meditate on the power of God to save – Mary, after all, like all human beings is saved by Jesus Christ and she represents all of us.

Thirdly, it is a prayer of contemplation. A Vatican document noted that the rosary is contemplative prayer which requires tranquility of rhythm or even mental lingering which encourages the faithful to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life. The point about contemplative prayer is that it is not just about “thinking” of the mysteries or calling them to mind. In contemplation we are assimilating the mysteries into our lives, so that prayer is no longer just words we use, but becomes a living prayer – prayer that changes and transforms us so that we are able to live what we pray.

Fourthly, it is a prayer that seeks the intercession of Our Lady. One theologian described praying the rosary as participating in the life of Mary whose focus was on Christ. Like Mary, through the rosary, we try more and more – as I mentioned above – to focus our lives on Jesus. But the rosary is also a recognition that Jesus himself gave Mary to be mother of the Church and, indeed, mother of us all. Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman this is your son”. Then to the disciple, he said, “This is your mother”. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home – these are the words from St John’ Gospel (19:26-27) that we know so well and hear every Good Friday in the reading of the Passion. United with Mary in this great prayer, as we too focus on Christ, we seek her intercession for the world, for the Church, for those we love and for ourselves.

Fifthly, the rosary is a prayer of hope. No matter what difficulty we may be facing, no matter what emotions we may be subjected to, the rosary lifts us up to see beyond ourselves in recognition of God’s acts of salvation and his continued presence and activity in the world. It reminds us that God does not abandon his people, and that after the darkest of nights which we may experience physically, emotionally or spiritually, there comes the dawn and new light. In the words of the prophet Isaiah (25:8), he has destroyed death for ever. Lord God has wiped away the tears from every cheek; he has taken his people’s shame away everywhere on earth, for he has spoken. The rosary is an uplifting prayer that brings us peace even in the most tumultuous times. 

Yes, you say, but it is so monotonous and repetitive. Indeed, it is monotonous, but St Josemaria Escriva counters this objection, with what seems to me to be quite a caustic remark, saying, Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins! He also said that it is the very monotony of praying the rosary that destroys our vainglory and pride. 

Pray the rosary – it is a beautiful, peaceful, powerful and Christ-centred prayer.

Let us pray now for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you                                                  R./ And with your spirit

Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may God enrich you with his blessing, may he protect you form harm at all times and may he fill you with gifts of spiritual joys and heavenly rewards, through Christ Our Lord, amen.

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

The Good Samaritan: a reflection by Bishop Sylvester David OMI

Reflection for 5 Oct 2020. The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37.

“And now a lawyer stood up and, to test him, asked, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?’ He replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have answered right, do this and life is yours.’ But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ In answer Jesus said, ‘A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of bandits; they stripped him, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came on him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper and said, “Look after him, and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have.” Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the bandits’ hands?’ He replied, ‘The one who showed pity towards him.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go, and do the same yourself.'” 

This is probably one of the most well known stories in the New Testament which teaches a powerful lesson on being non-partisan. It boggles the mind then to find so much partisanship in the world of today. There are insiders and outsiders. We see this clearly in the world of politics and also in the spheres of religion, commerce, neighbourhoods, country clubs, car ownership, health status, professional status and sport.

In the Gospel reading of today, Jesus puts an end to partisan affiliations that exclude others. Notice that the religious people – those who knew the catechism of their day, refused to show mercy but the Samaritan who in effect was an untouchable, imitated God by showing mercy and going beyond the call of duty. Jesus teaches that the neighbour is not only those who look like me, think like me, live in my neighbourhood, believe what I do, worship like me, eat like me, and support the political party and sporting clubs that I do. No – none of these is important. The neighbour is anyone in need. Without this kind of mindset, I run the risk of turning Jesus into an outsider who is not welcome in my circles.

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town.

Image: The good Samaritan, after Delacroix by Vincent van Gogh, 1890

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 2 October 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 2 October 2020.

Today is the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels. The word “angel” literally means messenger and demonstrates God’s radical commitment to communicating with us. And so I thought I’d take an aspect of the liturgy of the Word and explain it so as to help us in our response to God’s message. Prior to the proclamation of the Gospel text, the deacon or the priest says quietly: “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel” (The Sacramentary). Because this is said quietly some do not know about it. This is an important aspect of the liturgy and harks back to God cleansing the unclean lips of Isaiah with a burning coal (Isaiah 6:5-7). The translation softens the action of God to some extent. The original refers to striking the mouth with a hot coal. This was no gentle caress. We see the same in the call of Jeremiah where the Lord struck the mouth of the young prophet and according to the original “personally delivered” divine speech into Jeremiah’s mouth (Jeremiah 1:9). To guarantee that God is with his prophet in the next verse Jeremiah is appointed to do six actions and throughout the rest of the book these actions are always the actions of God.

Now it is nice to know what the words said by the proclaimer of the Gospel mean, but what of the hearers of the Gospel. In a recent Friday reflection I quoted St Paul who said “if I do not preach the Gospel I should perish” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Our response ought to be: “if I do not listen to the Gospel I should perish”. Let me give an example from the Bible. We are aware of the action of Peter when Judas and the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in Gethsemane. He injured Malchus the high priest’s servant by cutting off his right earlobe. And Jesus healed him (Luke 22:51). But why the right ear? The famed scripture scholar Raymond Brown gives the answer from biblical culture – the right ear was to listen to the spirit of the law while left signified the letter of the law. 

Now once again it is nice to know all this but how does it apply to us? Firstly am I a person of unclean lips? What can make a person’s lips unclean? Is it only indecent language that makes our lips unclean? A close reading of both the Old Testament and New Testament shows a robust use of language. The prophets certainly show no trace of Grammar School education. Paul was downright direct and though skilled in rhetoric and Greek philosophy, he never substituted honesty with nicety. And so we need to look further than impolite language to see what makes the lips unclean. What about lies and gossip? What about words deliberately chosen and used to mislead and manipulate people? And lastly, what about words spoken in an unkind, hurtful and condescending way?

Secondly, how do I listen – attentively, or with disinterest and indifference? Do I listen to the letter of the law or do I listen in a way which can bring about conversion? In the Hebrew culture in which the scriptures are steeped body pairs were a common feature – the hands and the feet went together, the eyes and the heart were paired, and the ears and the mouth went together. If someone’s ears were healed that persons mouth was also healed – enabling the person to hear the word of God and to speak it. And to speak it is to be God’s messenger.

Let us pray: Open our ears O Lord and cleanse our hearts and our lips, that we may worthily receive, proclaim and live out your holy Gospel. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Blessing]

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town.

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 30 September 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.

Welcome to this weekly reflection. Today we celebrate the feast of St Jerome, the great Biblical scholar. St Jerome famously said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. We give thanks to God for his Word which teaches, guides and inspires us. May we always make a home in our hearts for God’s Word.

In the Gospel of today’s Mass (Luke 9:57-62) we hear of an encounter between Jesus and three different men. This is what happened in the encounter with the first man:

At that time: As Jesus and his disciples were going along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, you have called us to follow your Son Jesus Christ, and we have responded to your call. Help us, Lord, to understand that we are not called to an easy path and that following your Son always involves self-sacrifice and obedience. Through the intercession of St Jerome, conform us to your Son Jesus, that we may be filled with his grace and compassion and so learn to be merciful, forgiving and generous. We make this prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever, amen.

The first of the three men who encountered Jesus is a bit different from the other two, because he does not seem to wait for Jesus to call him to discipleship; he seems to volunteer and take the initiative by saying, I will follow you wherever you go. Jesus called on the other two to follow him, as he did with others on different occasions. All three were cautioned that there was a cost, a price to pay, in following him. 

The first man must have recognized in Jesus something that others had not yet seen; perhaps he recognized that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. In his answer to the man, Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of man”, a term used in the Old Testament, for example in the book of Daniel (7:13) where it refers to “one who is to come” and has a messianic implication. So in a way, Jesus affirms what the man has recognized in him – that he is the Messiah – but also brings him down to earthly reality, the reality of Jesus’ humanity – he is “son of man”, he is flesh and blood like the rest of us. Following Jesus is lived in an earthly reality and does not remove us into a sort of “pie in the sky” heavenly realm. He is cautioning that discipleship involves more than one may expect at first. It involves self-denial, sacrifice and renunciation of “worldly things”. And so Jesus says to the first man, the son of man has nowhere to lay his head, to the second, leave the dead to bury the dead, and to the third, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. Jesus is warning that we should not have false expectations of discipleship, it does not remove us from the hardships and 

realities of human life and, indeed, demands a personal cost, a price to be paid. It is the cost of renouncing a way of life that is not compatible with the Gospel and, in particular, not compatible with the Beatitudes. To follow Jesus will, of necessity, take us out of our comfort zones, those places where we feel safe, protected and insulated. Jesus, the Son man in whom the earthly and the heavenly meet, does not fulfil our preconceived ideas and expectations of who the Messiah is, and what it means to follow him. Jesus frequently had to challenge people about their preconceptions.

The Gospel must always be a challenge to us no matter who we are or whatever our status in life. It must challenge us about our preconceived ideas and our presumptions. It must challenge us about who we think God is and who we try to make him to be. There is often a temptation for humans, we who are made in the image of God, to try and make God into our own image – an image of how we would prefer God to be rather than to learn to know him as he is. The Gospel must challenge us on how we live our faith and how comfortable we so easily become in a routine of external adherence to Jesus’ teaching, rather than an inner acceptance of the Word and allowing that Word the opportunity to transform us. The Gospel must challenge us, too, on how we approach the Eucharist without taking it for granted. In short, it summons us to a deeper and more profound encounter with the mystery of God – God who we have and do experience in our lives, but who always remains beyond our grasp and understanding.

Job captures this most beautifully in the First Reading of today’s Mass when he questions God’s actions but, at the same time, recognizes that it is impossible for him to understand for it is God who does great things beyond understanding, and marvelous things without number. Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him. To follow Jesus means that we that we free ourselves from our preconceptions, our comfort zones and our “security blankets”, and embark on this wonderful journey of light, accepting the mystery of God and appreciating how much greater his thoughts are from our thoughts, and his ways from our ways (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with youAnd with your spirit

Keep your family, we pray, O Lord, in your constant care, so that, under your protection and guiding hand, they may be faithful in good times and in bad times, and that they may always show their dedication to your name by their way of of life and their willingness to follow your Son Jesus. We make this prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

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

I hope and pray, that as more people are able to attend Mass under level 1 of the lockdown we will do so with have a much greater appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist and the grace we receive from the Body and Blood of Christ. So many have hungered to receive Communion over these past months – may we always be grateful and reverent in approaching the Bread of Heaven.