January 14.  Anthea commented, “I wonder how many people go to faithhealers when they contract the coronavirus, or is that not done, or not possible because of the restrictions. This virus is certainly a case where urgent prayers for healing are prayed.  It is meaningful that we have come to accept that health workers are our first source for healing.  Their work is not miraculous in one sense but there are many aspects in this situation that are pretty miraculous, even as Donald Trump loved to say about what he had achieved.” “Think about it.”  Kabelo answered, “The quick development of the vaccine is one miracle at least.”

A leper came to Jesus begging him and saying, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity he stretched out his hand and touched him and said, “I will, be clean.”  And he charged the leper and said “see that you say nothing to any one but go and show yourself to the priest.    Mark 1: 40-45. Pope Francis:  A worldwide tragedy like the Covid-19 pandemic momentarily revived the sense that we are a global community all in the same boat, where one person’ problems are the problems of all. All too quickly however we forget the lessons of history, the teacher of life. If only this may prove not to be just another tragedy of history from which we learned nothing. If only we might rediscover once for all that we need one another, and that in this way our human family can experience a rebirth.  FT 35. Reflect and share.    

January 15.  Mr Msimang explained to the young adults, “In Jesus’ day people believed that sin of someone in the family was responsible for disabilities. So that is why Jesus said, ‘your sins are forgiven.’ He showed the scribes that he had the power to heal and to forgive sin.  In our situation with the coronavirus today, can we say that sin has been the cause?  It may not be personal sin but surely there is social sin at play here?”  Joelene was quietly thinking to herself, “Surely God has the power and he could have intervened directly?”    

When they could not get near Jesus because of the crowd they removed the roof and let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” The scribes questioned Jesus in their hearts. Jesus asked “Why do you question?  Which is easier to say, ‘your sins are forgiven or to say, “rise, take up your pallet and walk,’ but that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins, he said to the paralytic, ‘Rise take up your pallet and go home.’” Mark 2:1-12.  Pope Francis:   I do not want to speak of divine retribution nor would it be sufficient to say that the harm we do to nature is itself the punishment for our offences. The world is itself crying out in rebellion.  FT34.  The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.  LS2.   Reflect and share. 

January 16.  Mr Msimang continued to throw questions at the young adult group, “Money and riches is a tricky issue when it comes to righteousness.  Are tax collectors today, (people working for SARS) regarded as sinners as they were in Jesus day, because they worked for the Romans, an unjust power?   Where would sinfulness be in the public domain, corruption, fraud, unjust tender processing?  But is everyone working in the public domain necessarily corrupt?   Even in climate matters there are sinful situations, wastage of resources, poaching, pollution and much more.”     

Jesus saw Levi sitting at the tax office and he said to him, “Follow me.”  And he rose and followed him.   The scribes said, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard it and said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.   Mark 2:13-17.  Pope Francis: The worship of the ancient gold calf has returned in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.  EG55.  I urge you to a generous solidarity and return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings. EG 58.  Reflect and share.    

January 17.  Sunday 2B.  Fr Brian decided to preach about Samuel and his origin as a miracle child. His mother Hannah was childless and Eli, the prophet found her weeping bitterly in the temple. After listening to her story God inspired him to tell her that she would bear a son. In gratitude she dedicated the boy to God from his earliest days and he became one of the most important figures in the history of the people.  Fr Brian continued,  “God speaks in a variety of ways to each of us in our own life situation, our family life, our work, school, relationships with friends etc.  To some he whispers, to others he calls loudly or repeatedly. To Joseph he spoke in dreams. Are we each listening to what God may want to say to us?”    

The Lord called “Samuel, Samuel” and Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, you called me.”  On the third occasion Eli perceived that it was the Lord calling the boy, so he told him to answer, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.” 1 Samuel 3:10-19. Pope Francis:  The Creator can say to each one of us, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, (Jer1:5)   We were conceived in the heart of God and for this reason each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.  LS65.  Reflect and share. 

January 18.    Bernard had school friends of other religions and cultures and he was interested in their traditions and practices, i.e.  their culture. African tribes have traditions around life situations, birth, marriage, death. Muslims pray 5 times a day and fasting is one of their practices. Fasting was inherited from the Jewish religion and Catholics fast, mainly during Lent, while other Christians do not have a formal tradition of fasting.   He shared with his family later, “To achieve the goal of the common good it would be beneficial for a new, universal culture to be developed. Where can we start?” “We could start a St Francis fan club.” George suggested.   

At that time John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting and people came and said to Jesus, “Why do John’s disciples fast but your disciples do not fast.” Jesus said.  “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?  The time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast. Mark 2:18-22.  Pope Francis: The word “culture” points to something deeply embedded within a people, its most cherished convictions and its way of life.  To speak of a “culture of encounter” means that we, as a people should be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone.  This calls for the ability to recognize other people’s right to be themselves and to be different.  This makes possible the creation of a social covenant. The subject is the people not simply one part of society.  FT 216 Reflect and share.