As Catholics, we have every reason to celebrate, because the Church has been instrumental to the growth and development of Singapore.

From education to healthcare, she has not only founded institutions that have helped to springboard us from a backwater slum to the first world country that we are today, but more importantly, she has helped to forge the morals and values of our society.

Indeed, good Christians have a moral responsibility to be good citizens. “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Pt 4:10).

As Catholics, we have a mandate to build the Kingdom of God on earth by developing this nation we call home, contributing to the moral growth of our society, imbuing it with the godly virtues of charity and compassion, and promoting the Gospel values of respect for life, integrity, justice, equality and harmony, all of which are enshrined in our pledge.

We must not dissociate faith from life, which must be expressed in our contribution to society, to the country, in various ways.  

The world and society are the arenas for Catholics to express their faith in action, and to evangelise by the Gospel values that we inject into these areas.

St Peter has this advice for us: “Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honour to all, love the community, fear God, honour the king.” (1 Pt 2:13-17)

So, even as we toast our past achievements, let us also reflect on our Christian duty to the work of nation-building.

We need to ask ourselves: How am I living out my Christian calling in this place I call home?  In what ways am I contributing to make tomorrow better than today, for my family, my community, my country, the world?

Or do I sit on the sidelines and bemoan how the world has changed, or take to social media, the press, to critique the work of our civil, civic and institutional leaders, believing that it is their job to govern and provide a better place for me and my family?

To those of us who think that way, Pope Francis has this to say:  “None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, they govern...’ No, no, I am responsible for their governance, and I have to do the best so that they govern well, and I have to do my best by participating in politics according to my ability.

“Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good. I cannot wash my hands… We all have to give something! A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.

“But what is the best that we can offer to those who govern? Prayer! Pray for all people, and for the king and for all in authority... Pray for him, pray for her, that they can govern well, that they can love their people, that they can serve their people, that they can be humble... A Christian who does not pray for those who govern is not a good Christian!” (homily delivered on 16 September, 2013 at Santa Marta)

Archbishop William Goh

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