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Initiate Synodality Conversation from Family, Catholic Bishop in South Africa Says

Bishop Sylvester David, Auxiliary Bishop of South Africa’s Cape Town Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Journeying together as people of God through the ongoing Synodal process should be taken to the root of the Church, which is family, the Auxiliary Bishop of South Africa’s Cape Town Archdiocese has said.

In his Friday, November 5 reflection, Bishop Sylvester David underscores the need to listen carefully to the needs of each member of the family before engaging in Synodality with neighbors.

“There is a saying that says ‘charity begins at home’. Perhaps before we venture out into the neighborhood, it will be good to take the momentum of the Synod into our own homes and listen to the various voices, which comprise our home,” Bishop Sylvester says.

He notes that in families, there are people who suffer in silence because other members of their households do not bother to find out how they are faring.

“There are people, especially the old and infirm, who are affirmed for not complaining, but when someone takes a real interest in them, real needs and aspirations are articulated,” the member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) says.

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He adds in reference to the vulnerable in society, “They do not complain simply because they have been conditioned not to. Sometimes it goes beyond using just the ears as some situations simply call us to be more attentive.”

“A plant wilting in its dry pot ought to be listened to and given water otherwise it will die. An inactive pet could be communicating that it needs attention,” the Bishop says, and adds, “Parents seem to have an instinct for this when their children need attention. Let’s see how we can practice greater attentiveness in the home so that we can live in more Christ-centered places.” 

In his reflection, he speaks about November 5 readings from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans and the Psalm 97, which he says articulate God’s desire for inclusivity, and emphasizes the need to involve all people of God, irrespective of their differences in the Synodal journey.

“Paul insists that his mission is to preach to people who have not known Christ. Although this situation, with a few exceptions, is less likely after more than twenty centuries of Christian existence, we can still locate numerous people who might have heard of Christ but have not felt his love and support simply because Christians have failed to demonstrate these qualities,” the South African Bishop says.

The failure to demonstrate Christ’s qualities through love and support “happens when we are Christians in name only and not in our lifestyles, our choices and our responses,” he explains.

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Christianity is not only about avoiding evil; it is about actively doing good, Bishop Sylvester stresses, and explains, “This is why the Synod with its call for inclusivity is so important. It reminds us that we are not to exclude people who do not talk like us, worship like us, eat like us and dress like we do.”

“Let’s see what we can do by standing up for the unrepresented, by speaking the kind word, by showing gratitude,” the Auxiliary Bishop of South Africa’s Cape Town Archdiocese appeals in his November 5 reflection.