“Give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live.”

Deuteronomy 4:1-2

Monday, 30 August 2021

Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8

Before boarding an international flight in July, I was given a compulsory health questionnaire to complete. Without this form—I was sternly warned—I would not be allowed to travel. The request was not only reasonable; it gave me a degree of comfort that measures were being closely followed to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission and infection across borders. I completed the form and boarded the plane.

Upon arrival, an airport official was designated to collect the forms. She stood, almost stoic, her arm firmly outstretched as passenger after passenger piled the form onto her palm. Nearing the front of the queue, I noticed the officer was simply collecting the forms without inspecting whether they had been completed. (Every passenger could easily have handed her a blank page and entered the country.)

This scene flooded my mind as I read the readings in the Catholic lectionary for Sunday 22 August 2021.

Though it may seem a mundane example to draw upon, it is easy to see the seriousness of missing the intention behind a law requiring all international travellers to complete the questionnaire. The information collected is intended to ensure that contact tracing is possible should an outbreak of Covid-19 be detected among passengers on that flight to minimise the spread of this modern-day plague.

We will return to my airport scenario throughout this week and explore its pertinence to the readings heard yesterday in Catholic masses worldwide. But, today, I invite you to bring to mind a similar example in your life that you might reflect on over this next week.

Think of something you do that fulfils a law or instruction but misses the point.

Loving God,

Spirit of wisdom, give me the grace to see, without judgment or condemnation, how I might be missing the point of the laws I follow.


Fr Ricardo da Silva SJ

Fr Ricardo da Silva SJ was born in Coimbra, Portugal and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. He had a career in marketing, communications and brand management before joining the Jesuits in 2007 and has studied communications (SA), philosophy (UK), theology (Brazil) and journalism (USA). He is passionate about liturgical music, communications, and ethics and takes delight in good company and food. He has ministered to a wide range of people in many different contexts, from the elderly to high school and university students, refugees, migrants and the homeless. He has just completed the foundational Master of Science degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

r.dasilva@jesuitinstitute.org.za @ricdssj
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