Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 28 August 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 28th August 2020. Text: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
The first reading of today’s Mass necessitates a reflection on the Cross. From the earliest of times the Cross has always been the dividing line between authentic Christian faith and watered down versions of it. The Cross has always been difficult to take. We see this in the Gospels when Jesus announces it. The are three revelations of the Cross in each of the first three Gospels. Every time Jesus reveals the Cross the disciples fight either with him or among themselves. The first time Peter remonstrated with him (Mark 8:32), the second time they were arguing about who was the greatest (Mark 9:34) and the third time he announces the passion two wanted places of honour and the other ten were indignant with them (Mark 10:35-41). Each time Jesus has to give them a catechism lesson on humility – about being ready to serve and taking up the Cross as an essential dimension of Christian discipleship.
In today’s first reading the Apostle Paul highlights how both Jews and Greeks see the Cross as foolish. The Greeks seek wisdom. Wisdom for them represented perfect balance and symmetry. The blood, sweat and tears they saw on the Cross was for them the ultimate in indignity and imperfection. The kind of perfection, symmetry and balance they seek can only be found in Greek statues, art and architecture. Life is not like that and most, if not all of us, are asymmetrical to some extent. What for them represented the imperfection of brokenness, represents for the believer the perfection of love. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another (John 15:13).
The Jews look for miracles (1 Corinthians 1:22) but when the miracles were worked before their eyes they said it came from Beelzebul (Matthew 12:14). In today’s world we too look for miracles and for instant gratification. Many consider the accumulation of commodities as a sign of blessing. Like the Philippians of old many “behave like enemies of Christ’s cross” (Philippians 3:18). And even where the Cross is not openly condemned, it certainly has become watered down.
We have glamorised the Cross beyond recognition. That kind one can easily find in the jewellery stores around town, but the values of the Cross which give authentic witness to genuine faith can be seen in those who can indeed make sacrifices for others. The Cross represents forgiveness, sharing, caring, loving, selflessness and all the values which Jesus lived. Self-absorption of any kind, bitterness and hatred contradict authentic Christian witness. So, while many around us look for miracles and self-made wisdom we live and preach “a crucified Christ … a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). We adore you O Christ and we praise you – because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
Let us pray: Father, through the abasement of your Son you have shown us what true greatness and true love are all about. Help us to live out the values of Jesus so that the Cross and its consequent holiness may be real in our own lives. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.[Blessing].
Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town