“I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.”

Zechariah 8:8

Friday, 5 February 2021

Jerusalema ikhaya lami – Jerusalem is my home
Ngilondoloze Guide me
Uhambe namiTake me with you
Zungangishiyi lanaDo not leave me here

(Master KG)

The words of Master KG, echoed and danced around the world, indicate a depth of longing for connection, for rootedness, for a place of belonging. It is a song of yearning as old as time and woven into the fabric our being.

For the Jewish people, Jerusalem and the Temple represented a place of privileged encounter with God. For many Christians, our churches fulfil a similar function, as there too, we encounter God in the celebration of the community and in the sacraments shared. During this pandemic, we have become unmoored, disconnected from the routines and rituals of church and community. It has made many of us question the church’s purpose, the value of a faith-based community.

To put it differently, where is our Jerusalem, and how do we live our inter-connectedness in these days of exile?

To quote the prophet Puff Diddy, “A house is not a home.” By extension, the church building is not the body of Christ. Sometimes we can confuse the two, believing that without the church our community is dead. I have seen countless acts of generosity which indicate to me that this is not true. People continue to support their faith communities so that the bills get paid, the lights stay on, and there is a physical home to return to. People have given food parcels so that the community can still feed their most vulnerable members. Not being able to gather has taught us the value of coming together and belonging. It is people who make houses homes; we make buildings holy through our gathering, our ritual worship and our acts of service.

Lord God,

Help us love the brothers and sisters we cannot see, may the world be our church in which we love, praise and serve you.

Amen.

 
Fr Bruce Botha SJ

Fr Bruce Botha SJ was born in Durban, KZN. He received a diploma in education from the University of Natal and then taught physical science for 4 years at Scottburgh High School. He joined the Society of Jesus and did his noviciate in Cape Town. He then studied philosophy in London and theology in Berkeley, California. Between philosophy and theology, in the period of formation known as regency, he worked as the director of counselling for an HIV research centre. After ordination in 2006 he worked in Holy Trinity, Braamfontein and is currently the parish priest of St Martin de Porres, Orlando West and Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

b.botha@jesuitinstitute.org.za
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