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, Christmas Day Friday 25 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.

Friday Reflection: Christmas Day

When looking at a stable who would imagine that it could be the site of Real Presence? Similarly, when looking at our families who would imagine that it is also a site of Real Presence. Families have some wonderful characteristics which make us feel safe and secure but families also consist of fragile persons like you and me and at times our inglorious self emerges making family life a bit of a challenge. How then can we say that the family is a site where God can be encountered and revealed? 

Two considerations: Firstly, God’s presence does not exist in flawless conditions. The birth of Jesus took place in a stable. The first sensation his little nostrils will have picked up would have been the stench of animals. So real presence does not take place in a deodorized vacuum! 

Secondly, Jesus did not come from outer space like Superman did. Jesus was born into the context of a family and when that happened, God said once and for all that the human family is the arena from which he delivers his most important Word – his Word about forgiveness, about healing, about love, about selflessness, about joy, about peace and about all the values which make our families vibrant units of the body of Christ.

The reason why the Word of forgiveness, healing, peace, etc. is necessary is simply because every human being experiences incompleteness, pain, brokenness, loneliness and discomfort. The family which has no need of forgiveness and healing does not exist. In psychology such a family is called a white knight – it simply does not exist! St Paul reminds us that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). The perfect parent does not exist neither does the perfect child or sibling. All are on the way, striving to be recognised, thanked, validated and ultimately for union with God. Even the genealogy of Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 1:1-16) is striking for its inclusion of broken people. Just to name two characters – King David was an adulterer and Rahab was a prostitute.

As soon as we recognise this and embrace each other with all our faults and failings, Christian family starts to emerge. Then Christmas becomes real right in our homes – as opposed to being glamorized in the shopping malls and fashion stores of our cities. I wish you a joyful (even if muted) Christmas season.

Let us pray: Lord bless our families with the ability to embrace each other and gift us with peace, love and forgiveness in our homes. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Blessing].

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town.

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