February 1. Blessed Benedict Daswa lived in a remote rural village in Venda. He was a respected school principal, married and the father of eight children while his mother was also part of their extended family. He was active in his community, started a soccer club, grew vegetables and helped the poor. Some of the community members were jealous of his success. There was clearly serious division with some of the community believing in witchcraft and the magical power of sangomas to control lightning and others who had rejected this and adopted Christianity. His enemies ambushed him, stoned him and then killed him on 2 February 1990.
One of his colleagues, spoke about Benedict’s attitude toward family life. “At a District meeting, Benedict said to the men, ‘Men should help their wives, if there is a baby at home and the mother is busy, the father should take care of the baby. The time has come for men to realise that we can do women’s work.’ Some men would laugh at him, saying that he was controlled by his wife.” He was beatified as South Africa’s 1st martyr in 2015. His life and his death are ideal examples of life-giving family love.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. John 12:24-26.
Pope Francis: In difficult moments of history how often do we ask, ‘Today what does our Church need?’ Martyrs, witnesses, everyday saints of ordinary life, lives lived coherently; but we also need those who have the courage to accept the grace to be witnesses until the end, until death. Martyrs are the lifeblood of the Church.” April 2017.