Fr Bryan Massingale, US priest, renowned theology professor at Fordham University in New York and leading expert at the intersection of faith and racial justice has arrived in South Africa for this year’s Winter Living Theology series. No sooner had he landed in Johannesburg, when he accepted the invitation to preach in the iconic township of Orlando West at St Martin de Porres, the Jesuit parish in Soweto.
There, he experienced firsthand the warmth which so many had told him to expect from the South African people. He was greeted by a full congregation as they joyously chanted their praises to God at the weekly Sunday mass.
In Soweto, preaching on the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist, Fr Massingale spoke with great excitement of what he called “the beginning of this blessed month in South Africa”. His homily called those gathered to “the power of the new … new things and new beginnings.” The audible acclamations hailing from the congregation were proof that he had spoken to the heart of the people and to the very particular socio-political-economic moment in which they find themselves at this time.
Speaking of his mission in South Africa for the Winter Living Theology 2018 series, Fr Massingale said that it is no different to his work and mission in his native USA.
“Racism is not a matter of laws it is a matter of the heart and the mind, and until we change hearts and minds we will still only be at the beginning of something new, at the beginning of something different and at the beginning of the power of God’s new things … We need to change hearts and minds to match the new things that God is doing with us.”
This, he believes, is his mission here, and is also the profound desire he has for the people of South Africa during his month-long four-cities tour.
He ended his homily appealing to the power bestowed by God on all at their baptism. A call to which he said all were invited: that they might be a new creation in Christ Jesus and live a new life in Christ.
Sisters and Brothers, we are only at the beginning of being the new people that God wants us to be, let us be glad and rejoice, let us go forward with confidence, trusting in the power of God. God who makes all things new – in the power of God’s spirit.
Listen to his homily, here: