March 22.  Human Rights Day holiday, transferred from Sunday)  Zanela shared, “On 21 March we commemorate Human Rights Day in South Africa. It commemorates an ugly but a sad incident in our political history. In Sharpeville in 1960, in one of the first anti-apartheid demonstrations, police fired on a crowd killing some 69 and wounding up to 250 people. In commemorative speeches on many such occasions it is so often said, “Never again.” And yet other incidents like this have occurred over the years and human life at times appears to be too cheap. Political and relationship conflicts deny the right to life to men and women, to strangers, foreigners and those close to us, a right which is the most basic of human rights. 

The reality of gender-based violence is as old as the hills and remains a sign of our own times and is even described as a pandemic. Women, and men too, march and demonstrate regularly as plans are proposed and interventions presented such as the recent  NATIONAL STRATEGICV PLAN ON GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND FEMICIDE 2020-2030. I believe that it is essential to address the family as a unit, not just the victims or the perpetrator separately.  This is part of the holistic vision of our family project.

A story relevant for our time from the reading of today is the intriguing story of Susanna, an innocent wife threatened by perverted elders of the community wishing to seduce her, and when she cried out they falsely accused her. Through the intervention of the prophet Daniel her innocence was proved. 

Scripture: Susanna would go into her husband’s garden to walk.  The two elders used to see her every day, going in and walking about and they began to desire her. Daniel 13. 

Pope Francis: the word of God constantly testifies to that sombre dimension already present at the beginning, when through sin the relationship of love and purity between man and woman turns into domination. AL19   

From The Little Flowers of St Francis: In his Rule Francis forbade his brothers to visit the sisters in their convent.  However the special close friendship between Francis and Clare was treasured by them both.  “Yet again and again they restrained themselves and refrained from seeing each other although they shared inspiring occasions of deep communion.” 

Reflect, share, act, pray.  Discuss with others in the groups, how can human life and relationships be valued and treated with mutual respect?