Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 18 December 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 18th December 2020.
Jeremiah 23:5-8. PLEASE READ THE TEXT.
We are now in the second part of Advent – a time of immediate preparation for the brith of the Saviour. During this time, the need for words diminishes and the need for reflection takes over. This reflection will therefore be brief.
As Christmas approaches the liturgy offers us hope through our very brief, but intense first reading taken from the prophet Jeremiah. In a recent reflection I highlighted the introduction of a deep and meaningful prophetic announcement which uses the solemn proclamation formula “Thus says the Lord”. That formula is used twice in the rather brief passage for today. This is the Bible’s way of drawing attention to a meaningful announcement. Let’s look at it. The solemn prophetic formula is attached to an announcement “behold the days are coming”. The attentive bible reader is meant to ask “which days?” Engaging with the Scriptures in this way we will get to know that this formula and reference to “the days” which are coming also introduces the text of the new covenant later in Jer (Jer 31:31-34). Today’s text prepares us for the announcement of the new covenant.
Still probing the formula we will see that as soon as Mary conceives, the reference to the “those days” occurs again. We see this in the original text of Lk 1:39. The attentive Bible reader will now begin to see that when Jesus takes human flesh, the days of the new covenant have come. For those interested in this theme, when the letter to the Hebrews presents us with the priestly work of Jesus by which we are saved, the new covenant text from Jer 31:31-34 is quoted word for word (Heb 8:8-12).
In the liturgy of the Eucharist we recall the words of Jesus in the upper room: “… the blood of the new covenant which will be poured out for the forgiveness of sins”. There is a deep and meaningful significance attached to biblical formulae which we routinely glance over. These formulae functioned as signposts for the ancient hearers and subsequently readers of biblical texts.
I wish you joy as you prepare to welcome the Word of life into your space at Christmas.
Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town