Sunday, February 23, 2014

HOMILY for the Holy Mass of the Vigil for Benedict Daswa Cause 16 Feb 2014

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Let us listen again to the words of the Lord Jesus in verse 24 (Luke 4,24).

“Truly I say to you: no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”  

“Ngiqinisile ngithi kini: Akukho –mprofethi owamukelwa ezweni lakubo”

“Ruri, ke a le botsa,moporofeta ga a ke a thabelwa motseng wa gabo.”

The Lord Jesus was not only prophesing about himself in this verse but about the experience of the genuine prophets in the history of Israel (and he gives some examples of this in the Gospel account). Jesus was also anticipating what would happen to his followers after his death and resurrection.And again we read in the Acts of the Apostles and in many later church accounts, how Christians were often persecuted and even killed because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. This is still happening today in some parts of Africa and the world.

Why does this happen? The Lord Jesus gives us an insight to this question in verse 24 saying.”Truly I say to you: no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”  A prophet is a person who has been inspired in a special way by the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit enlightens the person in his mind and heart and a new vision and understanding about life opens up which is directed by God. He or she is urged by the Holy Spirit to speak for God, for God’s truth and revelation and to live accordingly.The prophet’s most important point of reference is no longer my people, or my culture or my friends or my nation but first and formost – God. Everything the prophet says and does begins and ends in prayer and worship of God.
 That is what a prophet is – one who speaks for God,who makes known God’s will for humanity and witnesses to this revelation in his or her personal life.And you know what? Anyone can become a prophet because everyone is called to become a prophet in Jesus Christ. And Benedict Daswa was one of those anyones!

Benedict Daswa  heard the prophetic call and answered by being baptised in Christ in the Catholic Church. He responded generously to God’s call and never looked back. He embraced the truths of revelation and lived accordingly with joy in the Holy Spirit. And he boldly made known to others – including his wife, his children,his friends,his co-workers,the learners at his school,his community and all -  the saving loving power and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“Truly,I say to you:no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”

People familiar with a prophet think they know him or her but in reality they don’t! People say: We know him.He is one of us.We grew up with him.He is from our village and speaks like us.We went to the same schools together. He is not special or unique. Who does he think he is? Does he think he is better than us?Does he think he knows more than us? The people do not understand that he is special and unique, that he is no longer simply one of them but first and foremost a child of God who can discern the difference between right from wrong, truth from lies,justice from injustice,peace from violence;who has been given the courage in God’s grace to speak out against injustice and lies and to resist the temptations that the “blind and slaves” put on him to give up on God’s way.

Indeed the people who criticise the prophet are the very people whom God is calling to listen to the prophet! These people are blind because they are deviod of the light of the Holy Spirit in their lives and they are slaves of sin because they are ignorant and deny that all people are called to follow the way of God. Those people who are still enslaved to a witchcraft mentality and live with superstitious fears, who are still ignorant of the laws of nature,who are still living with a fatalistic attitude to life blaming everyone else except themselves for the difficulties of life  are “the blind and the slaves” who need to be liberated by Christ.Those people who thought that Benedict Daswa was simply one of them and one like them were gravely mistaken.Benedict Daswa was a prophet of God following the footsteps of Jesus Christ. That is why he was killed by them.
Today we rejoice in God’s grace for and with the Servant of God Benedict Daswa.We rejoice and are glad for Benedict Daswa’s reward is great in the Kingdom of Heaven.Yes, we do not mourn or cry in sadness but give glory to God for having given us such a wonderful prophet. “Yes, rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4,13).

“Truly,I say to you:no prophet is acceptable in his own country.”
“Ngiqinisile ngithi kini: Akukho –mprofethi owamukelwa ezweni lakubo”
“Ruri, ke a le botsa,moporofeta ga a ke a thabelwa motseng wa gabo.”


(Homily by Bishop Joao Rodrigues,the Bishop of Tzaneen Diocese)

Over 3000 Catholics at Mater Dei Pastoral Centre during Prayer Vigil for the Cause of Benedict Daswa on 15-16 February 2014

The Night-Vigil of prayer at Mater Dei Pastoral Centre, Mokopane in the Diocese of Polokwane,asking God’s blessing on the Cause of the Servant of God, Benedict Daswa, went very well, thanks be to God. More than 3000 people were present from at least 8 dioceses of the SACBC Region – the Dioceses of Tzaneen, Polokwane, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Witbank, Klerksdorp and Kimberley, as well as individuals from other dioceses. Archbishop Jabulani Nxumalo OMI of Bloemfontein representing the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, and Archbishop William Slattery OFM of Pretoria representing the Metropolitan Region, were present and concelebrated the concluding Eucharistic Celebration with Bishop Jeremiah Masela of Polokwane who welcomed the people, and the two bishops from the Diocese of Tzaneen, Bishop Joao Rodgrigues and Bishop Emeritus Hugh Slattery MSC. The Benedictine Monks from Subiaco, many priests from various dioceses, a significant number of Religious Sisters from different Congregations together with large numbers of the Lay Faithful, many in Sodality uniforms, made up the congregation.
The eight adult children of Benedict, some with of their spouses, his two remaining brothers, some nieces and other relatives were also present. Benedict’s Mother who was 93 last December was not there as the long trip to Mater Dei Pastoral Centre followed by the night-long Prayer Vigil, would have been too much for her. She is, however, praying very earnestly to be alive for her son’s beatification. Mr Norman Servais from Metanoia Media who made the Daswa DVD, flew from Cape Town to record the Prayer Vigil.
Weather-wise, the night was clear with the moon shining brightly overhead. The Prayer Vigil which commenced about 6.30pm Saturday and ended 6.30am Sunday, was permeated by a very joyful yet really prayerful atmosphere. The Programme had been well-planned, was interesting, informative and inspiring. Many wonderful testimonies were given by people who knew and had worked closely with Benedict, including his eldest daughter, Helen,who gave a most touching personal testimony. This was for many people, the highlight of the Vigil. Helen spoke very courageously and simply about her father. She said that she was only 13 years old at the time of her father’s murder and was the last person to speak to and be spoken to by her father who had asked her to tell her mother that he would be a bit late home as he was going to drive an old man carrying a 12.5kg bag of mealie meal to his house. After dropping the man to his house, Benedict was ambushed on his way home by a mob of youths goaded on by some adult men, then stoned and finally bludgeoned to death. All this because he refused to give R5 to pay a sangoma to “sniff out” the supposed witch who had caused lightning to set alight a number of rondavels in the village the previous week.
To Bishop Joao and the people of the Diocese of Tzaneen, the success of this Prayer Vigil gave a clear indication that the Cause of Benedict Daswa is gaining wider recognition and support in Southern Africa. There is a definite sense among all who participated in the Vigil that Benedict Daswa is indeed a true martyr of the Catholic Church and at the same time, a very special intercessor for people in Southern Africa. It is vitally important to continue praying for his beatification in the hope that more and more people will do so and receive abundant blessings for their lives. Already there have been a number of favours attributed to the intercession of the Servant of God through praying the Novena and Prayer to Obtain Favours.
Naturally, as the Cause progresses the demands will increase. This is especially true with regard to the development of the Pilgrimage site and Shrine in honour of Benedict Daswa. As the costs are huge, so much will depend on the success of seeking and receiving many generous donations both from outside the SACBC Region and from within it. Bishop Joao has indicated that this Cause will be an important focus of the forthcoming Ad Limina visit of the Bishops of Southern Africa to the Holy Father in Rome this coming Easter.

 (This report by Sr Claudette Hoisan OLSH,Promoter of the Benedict Daswa cause:email:;   Photographs provided by Norman Servais of Metanoia Media)