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 5 March 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.

Friday 5 March 2021: The innocent are vulnerable

Both readings for the Mass of today – the story of Joseph from Genesis 37 and the killing of the Landlord’s servants and his son from Matthew 21 are stark reminders that goodness and virtue are vulnerable at the hands of merciless people. The plotting of evil and then carrying it out show just how insensitive the human spirit can be. This happens when we become self-centred and fail to see the other as a neighbour, brother or sister. 

The main purpose in killing off the innocent in both texts appears to be that goodness, while not being a physical threat, can expose the hidden motives of cruel and uncaring people and can become an even bigger threat. These attitudes are not buried in time but are evident even in today’s world. The story of the jealousy against Joseph seems to find its way into many homes and families of today. This is evident when the giftedness of a sibling cannot be accepted. We see this in the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:1-16 just as we will see it in the New Testament in the well known story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. 

There are many homes where the “good” siblings fail to understand the special love the parent will show towards the one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, brings trouble to the home, and possibly has a life of crime. At times we fail to understand that the fact that when the other is loved more does not in any way mean that I am loved less. Listen to the appeal of the merciful Father in Luke 15:31 and you will see what I mean. Goodness, for those who really love, does not reside in outward glamour and exhibitions of decency, but in the showing of mercy and compassion to those who need it most. Last week’s reflection showed that God does not desire to punish the wicked but wants to see them convert. We can so easily fail to see that the perfect sibling, parent, spouse or child does not exist simply because God has not yet created such a person. We are all pilgrims on the way to salvation. What I am meant to do when I see someone in an unfortunate position is to recall the famous expression: “There but for the grace of God go I” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10).

Let us pray: Lord, help us to celebrate the giftedness of our neighbours and to rejoice in their blessings. Help us to be less judgemental, more compassionate and ready to extend your goodness to those whom we meet along our pilgrim way. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Blessing].

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