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 12 February 2021, 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 12th February 2021. Gospel passage: Mark 7:31-37. [Please read the text].

This passage has three parts: at the top, the arrival of Jesus (Mark 7:31-32); at the bottom the consequences of this arrival (Mark 7:36-37); and right in the middle, like the filling in a sandwich, we note the words and actions of Jesus (Mark 7:33-35). Here is the pattern:

1. Arrival of Jesus (verses 31-32)

2. WORDS & ACTIONS OF JESUS (verses 33-35)

3. Consequences of the arrival of Jesus (verses 36-37)

The word used in the original text to describe the deaf mute is the same word that describes the primeval chaos before God’s finger touched the earth at creation and brought order out of this chaos. The treatment of the deaf mute similarly involves the finger of Jesus – the Son imitates the Father when it comes to dealing with chaos. Later on St Paul will remind us that God is not a God of disorder and chaos but a God of order and peace (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33). This is why our liturgy is ordered in the way in which it is – intending to imitate God’s work at creation. Notice that St Paul encourages the order referred to in the context of worship and liturgy.

After this treatment, the man was healed and he spoke clearly. For ‘clearly’ the original text uses the word from which we get the word ‘orthodox’ – meaning that after the intervention of Jesus, the man spoke in the way in which he was intended to by the Creator. The creative work of the Father continues in the Son. Just in case there is a temptation to think that this is stretching the point too far, let me add that the word used in the last verse (Mark 7:37) to indicate that Jesus did all things ‘well’ is the same word that Scripture uses to say that what God did at creation was good. It occurs like a litany in the creation account (Genesis 1:21, 25 and 31). 

Knowing all this is good, but what is important is for us to assess our own speech. To what extent do we speak in the way in which the Creator intends us to speak? In this regard the words of St Paul are helpful: ‘Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29)’. Lies, insults, gossip and foul speech fall into the category of ‘evil talk’ referred to by St Paul. In this context he reminds us not to grieve God’s Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 4:30). 

Prayer: Lord send us your Holy Spirit to assist us to eliminate chaos and to help us to be clear about want you want of us especially about the type of speech you desire from your children. May our words always bring honour to your name. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Blessing]

Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town

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