August 5. Racism and sexism. Andrew referred the group to a discussion Fr Joseph had held on discrimination with some of the catechists at one of their formation sessions. As the parish was quite mixed culturally it was interesting to hear their opinions which he had also shared in his Sunday homily. “Deep down inside ourselves how do we look at men and women of different races and cultures? Do we respect a German woman differently from a Nigerian woman? Do we take a Chinese man or a Zulu man more seriously? What is our attitude towards people but also towards them as “gendered” people?” “ Racism is still around but I do think that in the last twenty years or so we have become more accepting and tolerant. But I don’t know whether that applies to the sexes too.” “Jesus lived in a racist society too, where Canaanites were not acceptable to the Jews and for a Canaanite woman to approach him for her sick daughter might even have been a shock and a wake-up-call.”
Jesus said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” The Canaanite woman replied, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table. Then Jesus answered her, “O woman great is your faith! Let it be done as you desire.” Read Matt 15:21-28. Pope Francis: Any Church community if it thinks it can comfortably go its own way without creative concern and effective cooperation in helping the poor to live with dignity and reaching out to everyone will risk breaking down. It will easily drift into a spiritual worldliness camouflaged by religious practices, unproductive meetings and empty talk. EG207
August 6. The Transfiguration. The group agreed to begin a build-up towards the upcoming Women’s Day. “Some gender topics are challenging from a negative point of view. We are well aware of oppression, exploitation and abuse, but there is also a positive challenge, for good gender relationships. These don’t happen naturally and need a lot of hard work.“ Tracy shared, “Today’s feastday, the Transfiguration, has been one of my favourites for a long time. The three apostles chosen by Jesus to witness his transfigured self were overcome with wonder and exclaimed. ‘Lord it is good for us to be here.’ That was our wish, hope and dream for all marriages, and even though I’m now widowed it still remains the same.”
Jesus was transfigured before them and his face shone like the sun and his garments became white as light. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord it is well that we are here.” Matt 17:1b-9. Pope Francis: I thank God that many families which are far from considering themselves perfect live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way. The great values of marriage and the Christian family correspond to a yearning that is part and parcel of human existence. AL57
August 9. Sunday 19A. Women’s Day. The parish had not been able to hold a Women’s Day celebration because of the Covid-19 restrictions but the team had asked Fr Joseph to focus on the topic of family violence in his whatsapp message. “I don’t want to focus on gender-based violence only he began, as I believe that this is an issue that should be considered more holistically. What is the state of communication between men and women? What is the behaviour of every member of the family towards one another? Even when there is hurt, love does still remain. Showing respect is necessary.” Let us take a leaf out of the book of the prophet Elijah in today’s 1st reading. Elijah was waiting for the Lord to address him standing outside the cave. A strong wind came by, then an earthquake, then a fire, but the Lord was not in any of them. After these came a still small voice and that was where he found the Lord. We tend to have big conferences and meetings and projects to address the problems we face but for now I invite each of you to sit quietly and look into your own soul. Allow the Lord to speak to you and find his answer, whatever your situation and relationships. After the fire there was a still small voice. When Elijah heard it he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. 1 Kings 19-9a, -13a. Pope Francis: Unexpected situations present themselves disrupting family life and require a process of forgiveness and reconciliation. In resolving sincerely to forgive the other, each has to ask quietly and humbly if he or she has not somehow created the conditions that led to the other’s mistakes. AL236
PRAYER FOR THE WOMEN OF SOUTHERN AFRICA. Almighty God, You are father and mother to us, your children. We thank you for the particular and special gifts you have given to women, the gift of nurturing life, of sustaining and supporting life, the qualities of compassion, commitment, generosity and a willingness to share.
As they progress towards their rightful place in society we request your blessing on all women that they may continue also to hold their rightful place in the family, that women and men together may build a society which will bring about the Kingdom You have promised us.
We call on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who nurtured and cared for her son and now reigns with Him in heaven to inspire the women of South Africa, to pray with them in their joys and in their struggles, and to intercede for them with her Son. Mary, Queen assumed into heaven, patroness of South Africa, pray for us.