|(Image: Brand SA)|
Dear Parishioners, Clergy and Bishops
We may be confined to our homes on lockdown, but in a time of pandemic the lives and ministries of the clergy seem to be busier than ever, whether we are calling our parishioners to check in on how they are – particularly those who are elderly or who live on their own – or addressing unforeseen difficulties in our communities.
I have just come off a long video conference with mining company CEOs, which I convened to encourage them to deploy their resources for the common good at this time, and to discuss what they can do collectively to ensure economic recovery post-coronavirus and thus support the social stability we all want and need.
The people I spoke to are participants in the “Courageous Conversations” we have been having with all parties in the mining sector for the past five years. In the coming days I will reach out to the union leaders involved.
It was humbling and heartening to hear the CEOs say that they have finally understood my appeals – following Tom Wright – for “justice and creation”. What came through clearly was a commitment to do business responsibly and safely, valuing the communities within which they work. For example, they were concerned about how they can become part of the solution for people in the informal sector, down to the level of how to help in practical ways to put food on people's tables.
They also voiced a sensitivity to hearing the needs of government both now and after the lockdown, and to accept the challenge of thinking laterally on how to help government at this time. They spoke of making their facilities available to make South Africa work, and some are looking at their social labour plan funds with a view to helping the government establish food security, water, sanitation and healthcare.
On the issue of food security, I commend the initiatives of HOPE Africa and our COVID-19 teams in this regard. Our small Makgoba Development Trust has given R100,000 to South Africa's Solidarity Fund, and we've also established a small fund with a matching amount for people such as informal street traders who fall below the threshold of help from the government fund.
Yesterday I commended to your prayers Anglicans in public service – today I want to add to their number the name of our parishioner, General Bantu Holomisa, that independent-minded spirit who contributes to our national life out of all proportion to the representation of his party in Parliament.
My meditation for Holy Tuesday was on John 12: 20-36. The passage enveloped me today because it reminded me of the importance of striving to see Jesus in everything, as well as the values of selflessness, self-sacrifice, surrender and detachment. What struck me powerfully in our current context was Jesus foretelling his death, highlighting the Christian mystery – the subject of so much focus at this time of our liturgical year – of how life is brought through death.