Since the beginning of his tenure as the Apostolic Nuncio to South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, it has been always the tradition of Archbishop Peter Wells to keep close relationship with SACBC Staff.
During his first year in South Africa he made a special visit to Khanya House, the Head office of the Catholic Church in Southern Africa (SACBC). He wanted to familiarise himself with the structure of the Local Church. He was then introduced to different SACBC Departments, Offices, Commissions and Associate bodies.
On the 1st November 2019 Khanya House Staff, for the first time, convened at the Nunciature to celebrate All Saints Day with Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Peter Wells, together with Nunciature Staff. The celebration was opened with the celebration of Holy Mass.
Before his homily Archbishop welcomed all SACBC Staff to the Apostolic Nunciature and expressed his gratitude in having them around. “It is a great honour and joy to have your presence in the Nunciature, and thank you very much for the work you are doing for the Church”, he said. The Nuncio also conveyed to the SACBC Staff gratitude from Monsignor Roman, his secretary, who was not part of the gathering. The Nuncio ended his closing remarks by giving a short introduction of his staff members.
During his homily, which was based on the Beatitudes, Archbishop Wells translated beatitudes as ‘Be-Attitudes’, referring to Sister Mary Michael; a Benedictine Sister he used to work with as a young priest. Archbishop Peter Wells said Sr Mary Michael used to refer to beatitudes as the things we have to be, not the things we should strive to be, instead the attitudes we must live by everyday as Christians.
Archbishop Peter said the Be-Attitudes apply to all of us as pastoral co-workers with Jesus in the Church. He further defined Beatitudes as a policy handbook which from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry he gave it to his followers. They are a way his disciples have to live and act. “The Beatitudes are interrelated, each one of them lead to each other. They are not separate”, he added.
He said being poor in spirit, means we are supposed to completely empty ourselves out in front of Jesus Christ. We are supposed to open ourselves completely to the will of God. “What Jesus is asking from us is to open ourselves totally to the will of God” he explained.
Those who are mourning are those who are saddened by misfortunes and sufferings we are experiencing in the world of today and they are the poor in spirit.
The meek are those who are humble before their brothers and sisters. It is when we are humble that we realise in our hearts that without God we have no chance. He is the one who has placed us where we are. It is in the state of humility that we realise God’s mercy in our hearts. It is when we realise this mercy that we are able to hunger for justice, and that is righteousness. In humility we are able to see the injustices in us and around us. “When we are poor in spirit, when we are sad about the situation in the world, and when we are humble, then we can hunger for justice”, he concluded.
Archbishop Peter Wells further said once we can hunger for righteousness then we can realise and understand the key concept of mercy in our lives. We become aware that we have experienced mercy during certain time in our own lives, we realise that during certain times we have treated others unjustly, but we realise that we have been forgiven by God for acting unjustly. When we hunger for justice we realise that the world needs mercy.
Mercy leads to clear heart, clean heart, which is directly related to the golden rule, and directly related to mercy. Because we have been treated mercifully, we must be merciful to others; do unto others what you would want them do to you.
Archbishop Wells urged all present to be merciful to others as we have experienced mercy in our own life. He asked them, “How merciful are we to others?” He emphasised that in the Church sometimes we are less merciful, we don’t express the mercy we shared, we are so judgemental, and we can be very harsh sometimes. “If we are not merciful ourselves we cannot expect the world to be merciful. We are supposed to be the paradise of mercy”, he reiterated.
Archbishop Wells said a clean heart leads to an ardent desire to help others reach the place of peace. What we do every day in the SACBC is directly related to peace. We need to have peace in our hearts to bring peace to others. We need peace in all levels. We can’t preach peace in the world if we have no peace in ourselves. It starts with us. When we are in turmoil in ourselves we can’t bring peace to others. He said, “We should be careful of our tongues. They should be instruments of peace not division. We should be careful about gossiping about other people”.
Borrowing the words of Pope Francis, Archbishop Wells said gossip is like a terrorist bomb. There is a tendency, even in the Church, of people loving gossip. Sometimes as the people in the church we are the worst in gossiping. It is so hard to sift through gossip when we are making decisions. Where there is gossip things are difficult, and there is little development.
At the end Archbishop Wells warned the SACBC Staff that if they are able to live according to the policy of the Beatitudes they should expect to be hated. “If you attain the Beatitudes you will be probably persecuted. “Many people who are trying to pass the message of peace and love are normally persecuted and hated. When we are fighting for justice we will be hated” he said. He warned them once more saying, “Blessed are those who are righteous but they should remember they will be hated and attacked. Walls will be built to keep them out when they fight for peoples’ rights, justice and goodness”.
Lastly he said, “Use the policy handbook and you will clearly see that what the Father has bestowed on us is present. If you follow the handbook of the Beatitudes You will truly see and you will be called the children of God, you will be able to lead others to Christ”.
About fifty SACBC Staff members attended the celebration, and it was also graced by the presence of Archbishop Dabula Mpako of Pretoria, Sr Hermenegild Makoro CPS, the SACBC Secretary General and her Associate Secretary General, Fr Patrick Rakeketsi CSS.
In her closing remarks, Sr Hermenegild Makoro, said “Since the arrival of Archbishop Peter Wells in the conference, it has been always his wish to meet all Khanya House staff members, and today that long awaited dream has come true”.
By Fr Paul Tatu CSS – SACBC Communication and Media Office