Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 1 October 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 1st Oct 2021. St Therese of the Child Jesus.
Let us start by praying for the fruitfulness of the upcoming Synod.
We stand before You, Holy Spirit,
as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us,
make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go
and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful;
do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path
nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity
so that we may journey together to eternal life and not stray from the way of truth
and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time,
in the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.
Reflection. A call to innocence
Today the Church holds up before us the shining example of St Therese of the Child Jesus, a 19th century saint who sought the way of perfection while still very young. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. A hundred years after her death Pope John Paul II named her Doctor of the Church.
The readings for today’s Mass convey an overwhelming call to innocence (Mt 18:1-5), to trust (Ps 131), and to being sustained and nourished by Jerusalem our “Mother” (Isaiah 66:10-14). Earlier in the lockdown, I explained what Jerusalem symbolises for us. For today I want to focus on a word occurring in Matthew 18:3.
The word is translated as “change” in “unless you change and become like a little child…”. The original text uses a word that could also mean “turn” and signifies a change of behaviour. This is a classical biblical word to indicate a conversion and a turning towards God. It refers to a turning away from someone or something and a turning towards God.
Why is the symbol of a child relevant here? What is it about a child that makes it so appealing as a symbol of what we are called to be? A child is dependent, and for a period in its development knows of its dependence on others for everything – to open a door, to get water and to feed itself. When we are called to become like children, we are called to realise our dependence on God, on others, and on the ecology for our livelihood.
My confrere Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI has the notion that a child is powerful because of its vulnerability. That’s true. A child has the ability to sanitise unclean language, to get people to stop smoking in its presence, and also to get grown ups to embrace the path of gentleness. A child can and does bring out the best in us.
But there is something else about a child that makes it an excellent symbol of conversion. A child has the ability to tell it like it is – no cover ups. There is a child in each of us and when we allow that child to emerge by telling it like it is, by embracing truth, and by recalling our innocence through renouncing sin, then we begin the path of conversion.
I wish you a joyful turning towards the Lord.
Bp Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town