Every Friday, for the duration of the lockdown in South Africa, Bishop Sylvester David will present a prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town (and beyond). Here is his reflection for today, Good Friday 10 April 2020. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
The text of his message is added below, primarily for those who are deaf.
Reflection for Good Friday — 10th April 2020. Day 15 of the National Shutdown
This is a most unusual Easter Triduum and today being a Friday during the shutdown (and Good Friday at that), it is up to me to offer a reflection.
With the uncertainty surrounding us with the Coronavirus pandemic, the decline in the economy, the fear, and the discomfort of not even being able to take a walk we can easily see a cross planted in our midst right now. In addition many people have relationship issues and from time to time one hears such comments as: ‘that spouse is my cross’ or ‘my neighbour, colleague, employer, etc. is my cross’. Undoubtedly many circumstances are painful and many suffer needlessly through the drunkenness or cruelty of those with whom they live, work and share the neighbourhood – but to limit the cross only to these situations is not to benefit more fully from the mystery of Calvary.
How and where do we encounter this mystery? What do the scriptures say? Well St Paul informs us that through his bodily suffering he shared in the cross of Christ. The implication is that when we suffer or take care of the sick and infirm, we actually touch the cross. Why do we not see it like that? One reason is that we have domesticated the cross and only look for it in antiseptic places. Gilt edged crosses are only found in jewellery stores. The real cross was not perfumed but was covered with dust, blood, sweat and tears. So when we have to contend with sickness and impending death in the family we actually lift the cross out of the rocks of calvary and plant it firmly in our homes and it is through the Cross that we have salvation.
Another place to find the cross is on our altars every day. St Paul, in his teaching on the Eucharist tells us that whenever we carry out the Eucharistic injunction, we celebrate the Lord’s death until he comes. Look at your missals and pay attention to the first two acclamations of the mystery of faith whenever we celebrate Mass. Once again we lift the Cross from the rocks of Calvary and plant it firmly wherever Mass is celebrated. This is why during the shutdown we continue to celebrate Mass on a daily basis – and that is why those who cannot attend Mass need to develop in their hearts a longing for the celebration so that we will never take so great a gift for granted anymore.
I wish you a deep union with Jesus who died as a lonely outcast on a hill. In this time of shutdown and the threat of death all around us, you might be tempted to ask: ‘Where is God in all this?’ The answer of course is that God is still in the same place that he was when his Son was hanging on the Cross. That is why in the life of Jesus, death was not the last word. God raised him on the third day. While I cannot wish you a happy Easter, I can and do wish you a meaningful Easter.
Let us pray: Lord we ask for blessings on your people who honour the death of your Son, not in their parish churches this year, but in their homes. In this time of shutdown with the threat of illness and infection, and with all the uncertainty and fear that this situation brings, give them hope and empower them to reflect meaningfully on the redemption which the death and resurrection of Christ has won for us. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
God bless you.