Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 6 August 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 6 August 2021. The transfiguration. Mark 9:2-10.
I once again wish to start by saying the prayer for peace in Southern Africa:
O God of justice and love, bless us, the people of Southern Africa,
and help us to live in your peace.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury; let me sow pardon;
Where there is discord, let me sow harmony.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much
Seek to be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
To receive sympathy, as to give it;
For it is in giving that we shall receive,
In pardoning that we shall be pardoned,
In forgetting ourselves that we shall find
Unending peace with others.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
We are encouraged to pray the peace prayer often.
Chaos, disfiguration and the need for a new creation
I recently read a book on the second half of life entitled “This Blessed Mess”. The opening line simply reads: ‘This book is about struggle’. The author goes on to describe the chaos of living in present day society. The occupants of our global village experience chaos and upheaval comprising the horrors of Covid 19, heat waves which claim lives, unseasonal rains and massive flooding. Recently we have also been experiencing forest fires of apocalyptic proportions either displacing people or killing them. All this makes life uncertain and our insecurities are heightened. Add to this the human complicity in wars, state capture, looting, the instigating of political violence, substance abuse, ecological damage, racism, violence, abuse of children and vulnerable persons, the abuse of animals though poaching and abandonment, and nuclear proliferation; and it becomes easy to see why this chaos so easily overwhelms us.
Biblically chaos is the opposite of creation. It is raw unformed energy and because it lacks shape and form it is totally unpredictable. The original chaos was transformed into life giving energy which we call creation – ‘… and God saw that it was good’. But the litany of disasters listed above shows that this good world has been disfigured. To the extent that we have contributed to the pollution and negativity then we too have become disfigured. This is why the remembrance of the transfiguration and commitment to its values are so important. We need to get back to the mountain of revelation and listen again to the voice of faith. Moses challenges us with the Genesis narrative and Elijah reminds us of the prophetic task of challenging the status quo which makes a profit out of uncontrollable consumerism. Jesus challenges us to again seek the path that leads to God – and the Father not to be silenced, reminds us that the way of Jesus is correct and that we ought to listen to him. In short the reading of the transfiguration event challenges us to re-engage with the work of bringing order out of chaos. What this calls for is for us to commit ourselves to the “new heavens and the new earth” (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22, 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).
The Gospel text is a beautiful composition – woven like a tapestry enriched with OT threads. In praying the text an important aspect nourished me. After their prayer experience (it was a prayer experience if we look at the original text) and the Divine voice requested them to listen to Jesus, the three Apostles looked up and saw “only Jesus”. How nice if our prayer experiences could end in such a way – that we look up and see only Jesus. For that to happen, we need to be open, honest, and willing to acknowledge that we are in need of redemption.
Let us pray: Lord, we turn to you in our time of need. Help us to reconstitute ourselves as a transfigured human community after the violence that has disfigured us in recent weeks. Remove all notions of hatred and vengeance from among us. We are still in the midst of a frightening pandemic and look to you to once again to speak your creative word in our hearts, our families, our Church and our world. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG/Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town