‘It is as easy to deceive ourselves without noticing it as it is hard to deceive others without their noticing it.’ A Jesuit who worked in KwaZulu Natal at the time of heightened tension when Mandela was being released and the Inkatha party felt threatened by the seemingly unstoppable progress of the ANC, quoted these words of De La Fouchefoucauld in his reflections about what happened. People who lived peacefully together and who prayed in the same church, suddenly found themselves the prey of those who demanded they support their side.

Horrific events unfolded. I was particularly touched by the story of Zamaswazi Kunene. She was a little girl aged seven, asleep with her sister Lindiwe and cousin Delisile on a night in February 1988, when a petrol bomb was thrown into the store room next to where they were sleeping. The parents rushed to take them to safety and then tried to dowse the flames which involved going out of the house to fetch water. As they did so they were met by a hail of bullets. Two of the children and their mother died and Zamaswazi was shot in the neck immediately paralysing her. She was taken to Edendale Hospital where the medical staff did what they could and she was even allowed home for a wonderful Christmas that year. But it was a brief respite. When she returned to the hospital, she developed pneumonia and shortly afterwards died. A month later her father hanged himself. 

This account of Zamaswazi was accompanied by a photo of the little girl in a hospital bed with the most infectious smile on her face. One is left pondering the mystery. The people who destroyed her family thought they were serving some cause and they deceived themselves into thinking they were doing something good. But no one could look at such killing and destruction without being aware how much the opposite was true. ‘War is always a defeat’, says Pope Francis repeatedly. But people still pursue war with passion and continue to deceive themselves. 

On Sunday we shall read the account of the death of Jairos’s daughter, only a little older than Zamaswazi. Jesus raised her from the dead as a sign that all the Zamaswazis of the world are loved by God and destined to enjoy life with him. Time is running out for the perpetrators of evil.                                                   30 June 2024 Sunday 13 B Wis 1:13…24 2 Cor 8:7…15 Mk 5:21-43