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 4 June 2021, 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.

Friday 4 June 2021. Blindness. Tobit 11:5-17 

The second chapter of Tobit gives us the rather humorous way in which Tobit became blinded. I will resist the temptation of describing it as that will rob you of the joy you will receive when you engage with the text. 

In the passage for today we see Tobit’s sight being restored. Raphael gives Tobias a guarantee that his father’s sight will be restored. This is significant because ‘Raphael” literally means “God heals”. Although cultural elements are used, it is God who restores Tobit’s sight. This is not unusual in the Bible. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman has to do a ritual of dipping seven times in the Jordan prior to being cured of leprosy, and in John 9 and Mark 8, Jesus uses spittle to make a paste and brings about healing of the blind.

Tobias, the son of Tobit, marries Sarah the daughter of Raguel. Raguel represents fairness, harmony and justice. Sarah is fittingly welcomed into her new home and family. The book was composed to encourage the Jews who were far away from their homeland not to give up on their traditions. It combines prayers, ethical teachings and Jewish folklore. This ancient text is particularly relevant to us during this pandemic as Covid-19 puts distance between us and our loved ones and also physically separates us from our faith communities.

It is also important to help us discover our own selective blindness. To use an analogy from our freeways – when changing lanes, one can at times not see a vehicle in the rearview mirror or the wing mirror simply because that vehicle is hidden in the so called “blind spot”. One has to glance over ones shoulder in order to see the danger. Similarly we can train ourselves not to see certain people and to keep them in our blind spots. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, this is precisely what the sin of the rich man was. He was indifferent to Lazarus. This is the only parable in the NT where the protagonist is named – Lazarus is the Greek and Latin version of Eleazar; a name which is very significant because it means “I have only God as my help”. These are often people who become invisible in plain sight.

In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man. This story is significant because it is the only miracle worked by Jesus that had to be repeated as it did not work the first time. After the first treatment the man could see people but they looked like trees. Jesus treated him again and this time he saw clearly. The word used to indicated “clearly” literally means that he saw in the way the Creator intended him to see. It is true that if we cannot see people as people, then we are blind and need further treatment by Jesus. The question still remains: in which ways do I not see clearly? We can so easily be blind to our own shortcomings and focus instead on the faults of others. We must remember that in the NT clear vision is synonymous with faith and to have the eyes opened is to come to faith.

Let us pray: Lord help us to see clearly what you intend us to see. Restore in us the vision of innocence, of truth and of beauty. Help us to recognise the neighbour who needs help and to see people as people. Help us to see ourselves in others so that we may share our blessings with them. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen [Blessing].

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 2 June 2021, 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 today’s reflection. Last Sunday we celebrated the most profound mystery of the Trinity, one God and three persons. Our understanding cannot fully grasp the depths of this mystery, but we do have a glimpse of the unity of God through perfect and pure love. In a broken world, we are called to overcome the barriers that separate people, and to promote unity through love. The First Reading of today’s Mass (Tobit 3:1-11a, 16-17a) is lengthy but well worth reading in its entirety. Here is an excerpt from Tobit’s prayer.

…we did not keep your commandments. For we did not walk in truth before you. And now deal with me according to your pleasure, command my spirit to be taken up, that I may be released from the face of the earth and become dust.

Let us pray:

Merciful and compassionate God, we turn to you acknowledging our sinfulness and failure in living your commandments, and failing to walk in the path of love and truth taught to us by your Son Jesus. We pray Lord that you will heal our brokenness and incompleteness. Despite our shortcomings and sin, we invite you to work through us that we may be instruments of your grace, bringing your light to all those we meet. We make this prayer, through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever, amen.

Tobit was a righteous man who walked in the ways of truth, a person who showed charity to his brethren, who shared his meal with the poor and who buried the dead while his neighbours laughed at him. One night, after burying the dead, he was blinded when the droppings of sparrows fell in his eyes. He was cared for by his wife, but he did not fully trust her and accused her of stealing from others. In today’s Reading he expresses deep anguish and grief. He no longer sees the point of life and prays to be relieved of it. His prayer, although made in anguish and pleading for an end to his life, is not a prayer of despair, but rather a prayer of faith. He acknowledges, in his pain, that God is righteous and that all his deeds are just and that God’s ways are mercy and truth. There is no loss of faith in God, neither does he call into question God’s justice or mercy.

It is also a prayer of repentance. Although a righteous man, Tobit confesses that God is exacting a penalty for his sins and for the sins of his fathers before him because “we did not walk in truth before you”. But even in his grief and his guilt, it is to God that he turns asking to be released from his distress, by which he means he is asking for his death! God does not oblige, because it turns out, God has a plan.

Later in the Reading we hear about Sarah who lived in Ecbatana, who had been engaged to be married with seven men, all of whom had died before they came to live together as man and wife. Sarah’s servants taunt her, accusing her of being the reason for their deaths. She too, quite naturally, was deeply grieved, and contemplated suicide. The only thing that stopped her was that she did not want to bring deeper sorrow to her father in his old age, and so she resisted the temptation to take her own life but decided that she would also plead with the Lord to take her life. Her prayer is also not a prayer of despair, although made in deep pain. She begins by proclaiming, “Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God and blessed is your holy and honoured name”. Although she is in anguish, there is no loss of faith in God. As with Tobit, she calls on God as God, and sees herself only as one of his creatures who is in distress. It was at that point, we are told, that God heard the prayers of both of them, and his plan comes together. Later, Tobit’s son, Tobias, and Sarah will meet and get married (unlike the other seven men, Tobias survives the event). They eventually return to the house of Tobit, and Tobit is healed of his blindness. This was all accomplished with the assistance of the Archangel Raphael, who brought about healing on many different levels.

It is a beautiful account of how people of faith can experience pain and real anguish, without losing faith in God and failing to call upon him. It is an account that assures us, despite the darkness and uncertainty of many events in life, God is present, God does have a plan, even if it is not evident to us at the time. It is an affirmation that God does hear our prayers, our words are not wasted, and that he does respond, often in unexpected ways. It also reveals to us that as human beings we are in need of healing, and not just physical healing. We carry within ourselves scars of things that have happened in our lives, events that have not and perhaps cannot be resolved. Ultimately, no matter how many people we have around us, we are individuals and there is always some form of loneliness deep within ourselves. But, just as with Tobit and Sarah, our brokenness can and should lead us closer to God, and not to give up on prayer because that is our life-line, and not to lose faith in God’s love and mercy for us even if we are in anguish, pain and distress. At such times we may be tempted to curse God (just as Job’s wife suggested Job should do), or simply give up on faith. We have to fight such feelings of despair, for we are people of hope. If our hope is only in what the material world can offer us, then we will indeed be disappointed and vulnerable to despair. But if our hope is in God alone we shall never be disappointed and even in our brokenness and in those times of turmoil and anguish, we will be able to recognize God’s presence, his love and his mercy and we will be given the patience to endure such hard times.

Similarly, even though like Tobit, we recognize our sinfulness and the many times we have failed God and neighbour, we place our trust and hope in God’s mercy. It is only through the mercy of God that we will be saved and by no other means. In the meantime, we keep picking ourselves up and endeavour, like Tobit, to live a righteous life by reaching out and caring for our neighbour, especially those who are most in need. Nothing must prevent us from the commitment to live a life of love and compassion towards others. In so doing, we will be able to proclaim: “Glory, praise and honour to our God, whose mercy gives us such hope.”

Let us now pray for God’s blessing:

The Lord be with you R/ And with your Spirit

Bow down for the blessing:

Lift the burdens on the shoulders of your people, Lord, and lighten their yoke, that they may always rejoice in your love and cherish the peace that you alone can give. Through Christ our Lord, amen

May Almighty God bless you, the Father and 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 28 May 2021, 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 28 May 2021. “Sing a new song” (Psalm 149:1)

Our responsorial psalm for today’s Mass encourages us to “sing a new song”. What is the new song and who can sing it? The new song is the song of love sung by people who have chosen the new life. For St Augustine it is only the new person who can rightfully sing the new song. The new person, the new journey, the new covenant, the new life and the new testament all come together when the new song is authentically sung. 

This is an Easter proclamation and Augustine spoke his insight to the newly baptised. From our own liturgical celebrations we know this to be a constant refrain during the Easter season. Why then does this psalm find its way into our liturgy outside of the Easter season? Perhaps an analogy from nature can help us understand. Those who live on the Highveld in South Africa will be familiar with the “highveld thunderstorm”. On a hot summer’s day in Johannesburg for example, suddenly in the mid-afternoon, dark clouds gather and build up and give way to an enormous thunderstorm. The streets become drenched and people dash for cover. About forty minutes later, just as suddenly as it started, the storm abates and the sun starts to show. After a little while, the is little evidence of the storm and the cricket match resumes at the Wanderers. That is exactly what Easter is not supposed to be – like the highveld thunderstorm which is over in a flash leaving no sign that it was even experienced.

We are meant to take the new life of Easter into our daily routine and to interpret the world through our experience of the resurrection. I wish you great joy and we take the fact of the Lord’s resurrection into our routines and infuse our space with the words and the values of the new song.

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town

Devotion to St Joseph with Fr Gerardo Garcia CS

Pope Francis declared the Year of St Joseph, running from 8 December 2020 to 8 December 2021. This is a rare opportunity for us to focus on this great man who is often described as “standing in the shadows”. Joseph becomes our guide to visit the important moments of the life of Mary and the childhood of Jesus. Though operating in obscurity, Joseph leads us to a deeper understanding of Church, work, family, husband, fatherhood and prayer as we delve into some important aspects of his life. Every time we do we this have a refreshing encounter with who we are as Church in the world today. As this is also the Year of the Eucharist, Benediction forms an integral part of our devotions.

This year is an invitation by Pope Francis to celebrate St Joseph. It is an opportunity that the Church and the faithful should appropriate fully. 

Fr Gerardo Garcia presents the fourth of the monthly reflections. It is titled: St Joseph the Refugee and will be livestreamed to Good Shepherd Bothasig YouTube channel on 1 June 2021 from 7.00 pm-7.30 pm. 

The livestream link is:

SACBC hosts Corpus Christi novena on Radio Veritas

Starting on 28th May 2021 and leading up to Corpus Christi, the SACBC will host a novena with reflections on Radio Veritas at 07.30  and 19.00 (repeat). The themes are:

  1. Bishop Edward Risi – the Church’s Eucharistic faith
  2. Bishop Sylvester David – the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary
  3. Bishop Sipuka – the Eucharist and the Blessed Trinity
  4. Fr Selemela – the Eucharist and Risen Christ
  5. Archbishop Slattery – Interior participation in the Eucharist
  6. Bishop Phalana – adoration and Eucharistic devotion
  7. Fr Karabo – the Eucharist and priestly spirituality
  8. Bishop Mphiwe -The Eucharist and spiritual worship
  9. Fr Sabelo – the Eucharist, a mystery to be proclaimed

Radio Veritas can be found on 576 AM Medium Wave or Channel 870 DSTV Audio.

Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year Closing Praying Gathering / Missionary Sending

Please log in to follow this online event in the Laudato Si’ calendar, starting Sunday 23 May 2021 at 3.00 p.m., taking place in Rome, Italy:

Please also follow the following online dialogue: Roundtable about WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in Catholic health care facilities, starting Monday, May 24, 2021 at 11.30 a.m. from Rome, Italy:

Laudato Si’ Week 2021

As we draw near the end of the Laudato Si Week 2021, being the 6th Anniversary of the Laudato Si Encyclical, we would like to share this incredible moment with you. All are recorded events (in the PDF below), so that you will be able to sit back, enjoy and see the path being laid out by Pope Francis for us to follow. 

There have been incredible Dialogues and Webinars involving people from all over the world from extremely diverse backgrounds to sit around the table together and two had South African Representation.