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 25 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.

Reflection for 25 September 2020. “Time”

We live in a clock-driven world and we ourselves are clock driven. Insofar as this makes us efficient it is fine but if it kills our spirit it is not. Think of the numbers of people who live simply to work. They yearn for quality time but cannot even afford to keep the sabbath. The pace of life has increased. Time means money and that’s the only value many people assign to time. 

The biblical world has three words for time. There is a word for clock time – or a measurement of time such as one hour; another word for a season – or for a specific event; and a third word referring to the end of time. The word that is used predominantly in Ecclesiastes 3 is the word which indicates seasonal time or time tied to an event. Notice that a whole range of events are covered. The logic is that if we are to be fully human, we need a whole range of experiences. Love, pain, joy, and sorrow are all parts of life.

Right now we have a season of the Covid-19 pandemic and understanding that is helpful in that we will be able to make the proper response to the situation. Imagine how difficult it will be if we did not take measures to stop the spread of the virus. This is not a season for doing whatever I want to do under the guise of personal freedom. Freedom is only freedom to do the right thing. My behaviour has to take the event of the pandemic into account. St Paul reminds us that the life and death of each of us has a bearing on others (Romans 14:7). 

Many in the world are angry at those who have ignored the threat and have endangered human life. In South Africa it is illegal not to wear a mask in public spaces and yet when walking in a mall or on the promenade several people carelessly disregard the safety of others. They have not read “the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3 – where the reference is to seasonal time), or if they have read it, acknowledging it would have interrupted their personal agendas. It is amazing how often scientific information with respect to global warming, the pandemic, etc. is ignored in favour of ideology, personal gain and the so-called personal freedom. The first reading for today assigns a time for every activity, but nowhere does it assign a time for negligence. Let each of us examine our contexts and see what the Spirit is saying to us as Church (cf. Revelations 2:29).

Let us pray: Father of us all, give us the grace to honour the various seasons of our life. Help us to correctly interpret the signs of the times so that our responses might be life giving. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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