The season of spring ushers in a new year filled with joyful hope and new beginnings. As we welcome the Chinese Lunar New Year, we as Church give praise first and foremost to God from whom all blessings flow, especially when we celebrate the 50th year of our Nation as well.
The Lord has blessed our Archdiocese with many able leaders, Religious and laity whose fervour and joy for the New Evangelisation greatly encourages me in my pastoral work.
Let us start this New Year firstly by being a people of gratitude. Singaporeans are famous for complaining. We take for granted the peace and prosperity that we enjoy – clean water, amenities at our doorstep, freedom of worship etc.
We who celebrate the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving), must live as Eucharistic people. We must cultivate gratitude, for it nurtures in us humility and compassion and keeps us from pride, envy and greed.
St Paul reminds us: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes 5:16-18). Not only should we be grateful for our blessings but we in turn should be a blessing for others.
The Chinese character yang means goat or sheep. As we enter the Year of the Goat in 2015, we note the special characteristics of this animal.
The goat/sheep is often seen as being meek and gentle and commonly used as a sacrifice to God in the Old Testament. Hence, Jesus Christ is portrayed as the Lamb of God who is the living sacrifice for the sins of mankind. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Mt 5:5).
Let us imitate the meekness and humility of the goat in our disposition, including our docility to the will of God, with faith in the Good Shepherd who leads us. Like Jesus who sacrificed Himself on the cross, we too can unite our struggles and sacrifice with His, in loving and generous service to others.
Finally, Chinese New Year celebrations have always been communal in nature, beginning from the reunion dinner to the visiting of relatives and friends. There is a disturbing trend these days to use this festive time to go on holidays abroad instead.
It is in this context that I want to stress the importance of maintaining familial and community ties. Pope Paul VI tells us, “The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis…the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society.”
Our families are God’s gift to us. The vocation of the family is a call to communion, to share in the love and life of God. In the family we learn to live and belong to each other despite our differences. It is also where parents pass on the faith to their children so that children, being rooted and established in love (Eph 3:17), come to realise their identity and vocation in living their faith with courage and boldness in this world.
Hence, I urge all families to journey together as one, treating one another with kindness and tenderness. “May we never tire in loving one another with brotherly affection and honouring another above yourselves” (Rom 12:10).
Similarly, as Church, Catholics should not stop short at attending Sunday Mass but be involved in groups to pray and share their faith with one another. For faith is not just a personal belief; it needs the Christian community to grow.
As Pope Francis reminds us, “There’s the danger of forgetting that He saved us individually, but at the same time as part of His people and community. Salvation is not just for me. The privatisation of salvation is the wrong path.” Let this Lunar New Year therefore be a time for renewing and strengthening ties amongst your families, friends and communities.
In conclusion, I wish you all a Blessed Lunar New Year. May the Lord continue to shower His abundant blessings and protection on us. Let us go forth striving to be a Eucharistic people – one with joyful gratitude, sacrificial meekness and in loving communion with one another.
God bless you.
Xin Nian Kwai Le.
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop William Goh