Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 20 November 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 Friday of Week 33 – Friday 20 November 2020.
Gospel reading Luke 19:45-48
Please read the Gospel passage. This is the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple and should inspire us to do some spring cleaning ourselves. Our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit and the spring cleaning I refer to should help us get rid of jealously, hatred, vengeance and indifference to the poor. In fact the original text of 1 Corinthians 6:19 refers to our bodies not just as Temples but as Sanctuaries (the innermost part of the Temple) of the Holy Spirit. This is the arena on which I encounter the living God who is present when his qualities of love, compassion, forgiveness and concern for the poor are cherished. I wish you a deep and meaningful encounter with the Divine.
We are at this time facing the end of what has been a most difficult year brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences. In this struggle we have witnessed both the failures of the human spirit and also its greatness. While the failures include a lack of sacrifice and indiscipline, the successes were seen through the generosity of people to ensure that the hungry were fed. Some within the Cape Town Metropole have turned even their front yards into veritable gardens thereby ensuring food security not only for themselves but also for their neighbours. One could not help but be attentive to the fact that the produce was not sold but shared among neighbours. The spinach grower exchanges produce with the grower of tomatoes, etc. In addition, some parishes began to explore ways of helping retail food stores to be generous. And all this has paid dividends. We thank these people and affirm their love of humanity and their God-given instinct of sharing.
A part of the struggle has been the inability to cope with what turned out to be a new normal. People have struggled to embrace the restlessness that was a natural consequence of the National Lockdown. In all this there was a possibility to discover our very centre – not so much as liturgical performers, but as people of faith who have been forced to abandon the usual ways of doing things. For the laity the gift of this crisis was the opportunity to discover the domestic Church – the body of Christ in the home. Also available to those who had the spirit of endurance was the discovery or re-discovery of our reliance on God. To embrace a poverty of spirit is in fact to enact a crucial aspect of our faith viz. trust in God.
And so as the year rushes to its close, we anticipate a new liturgical year. As we do with respect to calendar time, with the new liturgical year we also need to make “new year’s resolutions”. We do not merely wake up on the first Sunday of Advent and carelessly make a resolution. A meaningful resolution can only come after honest reflection which takes into account what needs to be done in order to be more faithful and more Christ-like. I suggest that now is the favourable time, with only eight days left before we start the new liturgical year, to look at what needs to be done e.g. to be more faithful to my prayer life, to be more attentive during worship, to be more forgiving, to be more generous, to embrace otherness a little bit more, and to live out our vows and promises to God and each other in a more meaningful way.
I wish you a meaningful reflection as we thank God for the gift of a new liturgical year with its opportunities to renew ourselves in the mysteries of our faith. Next week is the last week of the current liturgical year and we must not forget to thank God for the opportunities that came our way, and for new ways of demonstrating our Christian faith in what turned out to be a difficult year.
Bp. Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town.