Thursday 20 April 2023

Ad Laos - to the People of God - April 2023

As published in the April issue of Good Hope, the newsletter of the Diocese of Cape Town: 

A happy and blessed Easter to you! 

As I said in my homily at the Easter Vigil in St George's Cathedral, we in South Africa today can draw hope and courage from the Easter story. The reading from Matthew's Gospel about the women at Jesus' tomb related how, after hearing the baffling news that the tomb was empty, the women overcame their fear and conflicting emotions to pluck up the courage to defy the religious and political establishments who had crucified Jesus. As the women grew in confidence, they began to shape an almost defiant narrative of new life emerging in unlikely places, encouraging others with the good news of Jesus' resurrection.

Translating the hope of Easter into tangible form for our country, the key to our future is the potential offered by the young people of South Africa. They are, like the women at the tomb, eminently capable of defying the forces of greed, corruption and stagnation, and of bringing about real transformation, a transformation which will bring about equality of opportunity and realise the promises of our Constitution. In my Easter homily, I used a phrase coined by the American civil rights leader, Bayard Rustin, to urge young people to become “angelic troublemakers”. 

What would angelic troublemakers look like in South Africa today? They would be young men and women, of all races, who would come together and organise at all levels of society, beginning in their own communities. They would register to vote, and they would campaign to rejuvenate our politics on a sound ethical and moral basis, guided by the highest ideals of our religious convictions. To this end, I invite representatives of all our youth formations to ask their executives to engage with this challenge. 

It is not only South Africa that has the capacity to bring people to despair. I was shocked to read recently that there are around 40 armed conflicts being waged across the world today. Some nations such as Ethiopia and Myanmar are plagued by numerous conflicts in different regions of their countries. If you are in a church youth or student group, I urge you to look up the Wikipedia entry “List of ongoing armed conflicts“ on the web, to choose a country in which there is fighting and to soak that country in prayers for peace. 

Another source of hope for me recently was visiting the families of those who were killed in the violence at the Marikana mine in North West Province in 2012. Sibanye-Stillwater, the new owners of the mine – with the support of others – are committed to providing housing, education and jobs for the families of victims. A few weeks ago I travelled to Gauteng and rural areas of the Eastern Cape and Lesotho to visit widows and families, where a delegation  representing the groups involved handed over the keys of new houses to widows and families. It is a commendable effort which has generated hope out of tragedy. 

You will know from the past that one of my passions – and a real source of hope – is giving our children a good education. So it always pains me when parents miss the deadlines to apply for the placement of their children in public schools, causing the children to suffer anxiety and tension until they get placements much later. The initial deadline for admission to Grades 1 and 8 in the Western Cape has just passed, but since there is provision for late applications, I ask parish leaders to please urge parents to act soon, and to help parents with applications. 

One of our own historic schools, St George's Grammar School in Mowbray, celebrates a very significant anniversary this month – it is their 175th birthday! School records show that it is our oldest school, established at St George's Cathedral when Bishop Robert Gray came to Cape Town as the church's founding bishop. Warm congratulations to St George's, the learners, teachers and staff and parents! You can expect to see coverage of their anniversary service at the Cathedral next month.

As you celebrate the Season of Eastertide, I pray that you, in the words of our Lectionary, will encounter the Risen Christ, and that your encounter will help you discover the new life which Christ's victory assures.

God bless you and God bless your families and communities.

† Thabo Cape Town

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