Pastor’s Corner for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, by Rev. Fr. Rampe Hlobo SJ
Two days ago, on Youth Day or International Day of the African Child as it is observed by the African Union, we commemorated the 47thanniversary of the students’ uprising in Soweto. On that fateful day of June 16 in 1976, the students from Soweto embarked on a protest march that triggered a chain of uprisings that rendered South Africa ungovernable but ultimately contributed to the political emancipation of blacks.
The 1976 Soweto uprising was a historic struggle – to protect and promote the dignity of the black person – that the youth took upon themselves. The Bantu Education system referred to by Hendrik Verwoerd as “education for a menial place in society”, was a clear violation of human dignity as it deliberately sought to keep Blacks inferior. This education system under apartheid, was a violation not least, of the inherent human dignity of a black person.
In two days, we will be commemorating another important day, the World Refugee Day (WRD). With the theme of “Hope Away From Home: A World Where Refugees Are Always Included,” the day is meant to heighten awareness and solicit solidarity with those forcibly displaced for reasons beyond their control, including violations of their human dignity like it happened with South Africans during the apartheid years. The theme encourages host communities to help refugees restart their lives and enable them to make meaningful contributions in those communities.
Many refugees, like the innumerable young South Africans who were forced to go into exile after the 1976 and subsequent uprisings, have also been forced to flee their countries because their human dignity and rights were violated, and their lives were in danger. As a strong symbol of solidarity, South Africans opposing apartheid who went into exile, received support from many families and communities abroad, including their governments. Their fight for human dignity and the common good in South Africa, was embraced and supported by many. Hence the International Day of the African Child.
Our Catholic Social Teaching (CST) proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the person – emanating from the intrinsic Image of God in all human beings – is the foundation of a moral vision for society. Refugees flee their countries because this intrinsic Image of God and the human dignity are constantly violated. The CST also encourages solidarity with the marginalised and vulnerable like refugees in their endeavour for preservation or protection of the human dignity and in their pursuit of the common good. Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Populorum Progressio declared that “We shall always insist upon giving a generous welcome to others which is at once a duty of human solidarity and Christian charity. . ..
In today’s global and interdependent world, solidarity – being my brother’s or my sister’s keeper- is indispensable. Humanity, especially the Youth, have a moral and ethical obligation to promote solidarity with the marginalised for the common good, protection of human dignity and human rights. The rich harvest that Jesus is referring to in today’s gospel includes violations of human dignity, disregard of the common good and the indifference exacerbating lack of solidarity for the vulnerable. Christians, like the disciples in the gospel today, are called and sent to continue the mission of building the kingdom of God that Jesus started. Love, peace, and Justice should flourish through our solidarity with the marginalised otherwise, as experience has taught us, evil will always flourish when good people do nothing.
For the sick
Let us continue to pray for the sick members of our parish especially Benedicta Ngwebelele, Joyce Xaba, Anna Dlhamini and Andrew Ledwaba.
Fr. R. Hlobo SJ