July: Reflection Seven


Each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith to the best of his/her ability (Lumen Gentium 17) A martyr follows the Lord to the end, freely accepting to die for the salvation of the world, in a supreme test of faith and love (cf. Lumen Gentium, 42).

John 15:13.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Read and reflect on the story.

Benedict Daswa was born in a rural village in Venda in 1946 into a family who belonged to the Lemba tribe, known as “black Jews.” After he met a young Catholic he felt called to convert, received instruction and was received into the Church.  He became a committed leader in the parish, while the family at home also prayed and practiced their faith.

In the village community he was hardworking and generous, a leader who became principal of the school and an advisor to the chief. However he would not do anything against his Catholic beliefs and was a strong opponent to the witchcraft that is rife in the area.  When the soccer team he had started for the youth wanted to call in a sangoma to help them win matches he left them and started another team.

In late 1989 unusual thunderstorms caused great fear in the community and they wanted to call in a sangoma. His refusal to give in to this plan led to him being ambushed in his car on the road, attacked and stoned to death by members of the village on 2nd February 1990.  It has been said that his murder was planned by adults but carried out by youth.

As an exemplary man in his family and community and a person of deep commitment to his faith he witnessed to his faith with his life. He is considered a true martyr for the local Church and his cause to be declared a saint and martyr has been taken up by the diocese of Tzaneen.

Questions for reflection and action. 

What does it take to make a person into a saint and martyr?

How does the situation or context in which we live make a difference to how we are able to live out the Mission of the Church?

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