On South Africa’s Reconciliation Day, Archbishop Urges Christians to Walk the Talk

Archbishop Stephen Brislin of South Africa’s Cape town Archdiocese.

On the occasion of the annual Day of Reconciliation in South Africa, an Archbishop has called on the people of God within his pastoral jurisdiction to walk the talk, matching their behavior with their Christian beliefs.  

The 16 December 2020 event marks 25 years since the celebration that aims at fostering reconciliation and national unity in South Africa was launched.

“On this public holiday – the Day of Reconciliation – we could well see it as being a challenge for us to reconcile our words with our deeds,” Archbishop Stephen Brislin of South Africa’s Cape town Archdiocese said in his Wednesday, December 16.

In the message of his homily published on the website of Cape town Archdiocese, Archbishop Brislin says Christians, “who are called to be light to the world, can become a stumbling block to the faith of others when their behaviour is scandalous and clearly in contradiction to both the letter and spirit of Jesus’ teaching.”

He adds, “It is a lifelong struggle for us to bring our words and our actions into harmony, so that what we profess with our mouths we accomplish, even if imperfectly, in our actions.”


The Archbishop further says that during this Christmas season to be celebrated amid COVID-19 restrictions, Christians can reconcile their words and actions by being “conscious and responsible in our behavior.”

He explains that while people particularly like being with each other during the festivities, “there is no reason why we cannot enjoy ourselves at this time while still being responsible in our behavior.”

“It simply takes a commitment, and discipline, to observe all the safeguarding measures that we have been taught,” Archbishop Brislin says in reference to COVID-19 measures put in place by the government to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected at least 873,679 people including 23,661 deaths and 764,977 recoveries in South Africa. 

The Archbishop continues, “A very important part of our Christmas Masses is the singing of carols – the carols help make Christmas the joyful, beautiful feast it is. Yet again, we have to accept the limitations placed on us, knowing that singing in a congregation could become a super-spreader of the virus.”

He cautions against relaxing COVID-19 restrictions saying such a move “would be putting people’s lives at risk.”

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“We have to make the responsible decision of patiently abiding by the restrictions, knowing that in due course, they will come to an end,” he says.

While this year’s Christmas celebration will be “very different” from the previous ones, “nothing can separate us from the joy of God’s salvation and we can still experience overflowing joy while being responsible in our behavior,” the South African Archbishop underscores.

He urges the people of God under his care to foster a positive attribute toward the restrictions saying, “We can feel sad and frustrated that we cannot celebrate as we would usually like to, and allow those feelings to spoil Christmas for us.”

“Or we could look at the restrictions in a way that enables us to recognize that they can help us appreciate the true meaning of Christmas – the light has come into the world, the Saviour has been born, redemption is at hand, God has blessed the world,” he says.

For the 64-year-old South African Archbishop, there is nothing that will prevent the people of God from “entering into the true meaning of the Incarnation and immersing ourselves in the love that God has bestowed on us” if they are able to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas.


“I hope that we will all be able to be positive this Christmas, grateful to God and full of joy. I hope that we accept the limitations as a light burden that we have to carry, and that we will ensure that we make an extra effort to be caring and conscious of the health of others,” Archbishop Brislin says in the message of his homily published December 16.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.