Wednesday 29 March 2017

Archbishop Thabo's prayer at the interfaith funeral of Kathy Kathrada

Prayer at the funeral of Kathy Kathrada at West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg

Let us pray:

Loving and compassionate  God of the Universe, Triune God, Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer,

Whose arm bends the arc of justice towards the poor and the oppressed,
 and whose ear is ever inclined to the cry of those who are burdened under the weight of injustice,

In this morning hour we gather to thank you for the gift of Ahmed KATHRADA,
 whose life was spent untiringly ensuring that justice was realised for those on the margins,
 whose heart was radically opened to the cries of the disadvantaged and
 who tirelessly worked to lift the yoke of oppression,
 who believed that vision is the art of seeing the invisible, and
 whose rainbow had three colours, dignity, equality and opportunity;

In  being so and in doing so, we realise that he was close to You, God of the Ages, and carried on your great commission to mend our broken world.

We thank you with grateful hearts that in the course of history you raise up women and men of profound consciences, who challenge our complacency, lift our vision, disturb our peace and turn our eyes to the places of suffering. People who in looking at our country today, say, No! Not here! Never again!

We are awed by the fact that our brother was such a man, was part of such a generation and was loyal to such an amazing collective;

For us, the life and inspiration of Kathy and his generation is a stark reminder of the call to lead with faith and courage, integrity and honesty;

He was a truly a gentle giant of our struggle:
He was a gentle soul, a beloved comrade and a great patriot, who epitomised dignity;
He was humble even under the gaze of fame and fortune
He was noble when all around him the proud  and deceitful were flattered by their own self-importance and distorted by their greed.

Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer:

You remind us through the witness of people like Ahmed Kathrada that history judges us and to the degree to which we have spent our lives for others, have been honest in our dealings and just in our relationships, we will be found worthy at the bar of time.

Thank you that such lives remind us that the proud will be scattered, the mighty pulled down from their thrones and the rich and greedy sent empty away!

 In this time when evil thrives because the good do nothing, inspire us, Holy God, to pick up the torch which Ahmed Kathrada carried with such dignity; illuminate us with your light so that we can illuminate our country,  so that the poor might see in us a friend and the oppressed a compassionate liberator.

Give us grace to speak boldly when truth needs to contest power, when vision is suspect and when a culture of lies holds sway, and when the gains of our long struggle seem to be in danger of being compromised, for in doing so we will honour the life and legacy of Ahmed, whose witness remained untarnished even to the end. Lord dispel in each of us the comfort of despair, for you have overcome and we shall overcome!

You, God, who know the needs of our country and of the world, in these times when dark shadows hang over us and all over the world the lamps of decency burn low, raise again prophets in our midst, wise teachers and righteous leaders so that the people may again find hope for many better tomorrows.  Lord, we can do better, we must do better, we will do better.

For Barbara, Kathrada’s family and comrades, and all those who mourn we ask that you grant deep measures of comfort, not despair, abiding consolation and a sense of satisfaction that so gracious and generous a life needs to be mourned, yes, but more especially celebrated!

Let me end with Aeschylus: "In our sleep pain which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until in our own despair against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

God bless the soul of AK

God bless the memory of AK

God bless you and your family

And God bless our South Africa



  1. Thank you for the example you set of tolerance, love an acceptance. Your presence at AK's funeral made a profound statement and demonstrated with more than mere words that we serve a loving, inclusive and unifying God


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