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 30 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 30th October 2020. Philippians 1:1-11.

I want to refer to the first reading of today’s Mass. In the first reading we get a rare glimpse of the tenderness which the Apostle nurtured toward the community at Philippi. One could do a close reading of the text and pick out words which give this type of insight but I think it is more useful at this time to examine our own attitudes to those around us – to our loved ones, colleagues and neighbours. In this age when narcissism seems to be rewarded, we ought to measure our own love against the perfect template of love viz. the Cross of Christ. Paul has made an intercession in Philippians 1:9 that we may love with the total self sacrificial love we see on the Cross. In any case that is the word that is used. In other words that we should become imitators of Christ. Imitation of Christ is meant to be exercised in our daily lives, right where we work and live. It is not something that is reserved for the future. It has to be lived out in the eternal now.

How nice it would be if spouses could express their love for each other in these words: “I thank my God whenever I think of you; and every time I pray for you, I pray with joy…” (Philippians 1:3). How nice if siblings could share similar sentiments, at least on birthdays. How nice if grandparents could share these kinds of sentiments with their grandchildren and vice versa. We very often leave such expressions of love until it is too late. Either we are too reticent to express love verbally, or pride gets in the way. Whatever the case, we leave things until it is too late. What is the sense of placing bouquets of flowers on coffins of loved ones when we have not bothered to show signs of love when these persons were alive? 

I remember once visiting an old aged home and I was told of an elderly woman who wanted to see me but was hesitant to ask because she was not Catholic. I asked how she was and what she told me made me want to weep. She said that physically she was fine and was blessed with good health. But relationally she was lonely. Three of her four adult children were successful professional people living in the same city and of these three only one visited her on her birthday and for Christmas two of them brought her gifts but could only stay ten minutes because they were all gathering at the absent one’s home for Christmas lunch. She said that in the rather nice establishment where she lived, she was able to walk to the dining room, the games room, the TV room, and also walk in the garden, etc. without any difficulty. She was also self sufficient in that she could eat without assistance and regularly completed crosswords. And then she asked: “Why could they not have included me at their lunch table?” That poor neglected woman could certainly have benefitted from one of her children saying: “I thank my God whenever I think of you”. Let us make it our mission to find someone in such need and to make life worth living for them.

Let us pray: Almighty God, you desire that we show love to all. Help us to do this in a meaningful way starting in our homes and then spreading your love to all we meet. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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