Allow Gospel Challenge “preconceived ideas, who we think God is”: South African Prelate

Archbishop Stephen Brislin of South African’s Cape Town Archdiocese.

The Archbishop of South African’s Cape Town Archdiocese has, in a video reflection, underscored the need to interact with the word of God in the scriptures, allowing the message to challenge “our preconceived ideas,” including our image of God.

“The Gospel must always be a challenge to us no matter who we are or whatever our status in life. It must challenge us about our preconceived ideas and our presumptions,” Archbishop Stephen Brislin says in the nine-minute video reflection published Wednesday, September 30 on the Facebook page of the Archdiocese of Cape Town.

In the reflection, Archbishop Brislin cautions against the temptation to create God in our own image rather than learn to know Him as he is through the scriptures saying, the word of God “must challenge us about who we think God is and who we try to make him to be.” 

“The Gospel must challenge us on how we live our faith and how comfortable we so easily become in a routine of external adherence to Jesus’ teaching, rather than an inner acceptance of the Word and allowing that Word the opportunity to transform us,” the 64-year-old South African Prelate says.

Christians must allow themselves to be challenged by the word of God on how to approach the Eucharist without taking it for granted by allowing themselves to be summed “to a deeper and more profound encounter with the mystery of God – God who we have and do experience in our lives, but who always remains beyond our grasp and understanding,” the Archbishop reflects.


He makes reference to the day’s Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus responds to some three people who expressed the desire to follow him.

Jesus told the first man, “the son of man has nowhere to lay his head,” to the second he said, “leave the dead to bury the dead,” and to the third, “no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” 

“Jesus is warning that we should not have false expectations of discipleship, it does not remove us from the hardships and realities of human life and, indeed, demands a personal cost, a price to be paid,” the South African Prelate says in his reflection also published on the YouTube Channel of the Archdiocese.

The price to be paid “is the cost of renouncing a way of life that is not compatible with the Gospel and, in particular, not compatible with the Beatitudes,” Archbishop Brislin says, adding that following Jesus will “take us out of our comfort zones, those places where we feel safe, protected and insulated.” 

He goes on to reflect on the Memorial of the scripture scholar, St. Jerome, thanking God “for his Word, which teaches, guides, and inspires us.”

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In the example of St. Jerome, the Archbishop says, “May we always make a home in our hearts for God’s Word.” 

In his reflection, the South African Archbishop expresses the hope that as more Christians in the country are able to attend Mass under Level 1 COVID-19 lockdown, they do so “with a much greater appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist and the grace we receive from the Body and Blood of Christ.” 

“So many have hungered to receive Communion over these past months – may we always be grateful and reverent in approaching the Bread of Heaven,” he says in his nine-minute video reflection. 

The South African government eased most of the COVID-19 restrictions on September 16, placing the country under Level 1 lockdown, which implies that most normal activities can resume, with precautions and health guidelines followed at all times.