Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings to you in the season of Lent!
Once again the Universal Church prepares to contemplate the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I invite each and every one of you to join me during these forty days to meditate on how important the mysteries of the life of Jesus are for the Church in Singapore.
The human person has been described as ‘meaning-makers.’ We are beings in search of purpose. I believe this is so because God has put into our hearts the desire for truth and happiness that gives our lives meaning. Seeking meaning in turn makes us human – indeed we are on the path to holiness when we faithfully incorporate the meaningful teaching of Christ and his Church into our daily life.
But we live in a complicated world. We dwell in a ‘wilderness of meaning’ where many competing voices call for our attention and tell us what constitutes meaningful living. Without listening first for the wisdom of Jesus, it is possible to become confused about what really matters and then we mix up our priorities.
When this happens even though we work hard to make our lives meaningful sometimes the opposite happens. Our striving to earn what we think should profit us instead causes the loss of what is close to our hearts. Some of us have made great sacrifices to get what we want, even at the cost of our own integrity, only to find emptiness in the place of satisfaction.
It is ironic that the search for meaning that was supposed to make us more human can in fact make us less human. With this realization I implore you, my fellow Christians, to let Christ be the author of your life’s purpose. The first step is to open your spiritual senses and allow old meanings to be converted to the new meaning that Christ offers:
Open your lips to drink of Christ who is the Water of Life (John 4:5-52). He brings refreshment and healing to the isolation experienced by the Samaritan woman. Let Christ inspire reconciliation in us who are estranged and thirst for restored relationships with our dear ones.
Open your eyes to gaze upon Christ who is the Light of the World (John 9:1-41). He brings sight to the man born blind despite the refusal of those in authority to recognize the work of God. Let Christ inspire courage in us to witness to a society that maintains the absence of God.
Open your hearts to hope in Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-5). He brings back Lazarus from physical death. Let Christ inspire new life for us who are captured in all situations of despair or lifelessness.
Activity performed apart from the vision of Christ can easily become distorted in their purpose. Therefore it is my hope that all in the Church practise habits that discern the purpose of Christ before commencing activities, mundane or religious:
For you at home; pause for silent prayer to ask God’s will before you make important family decisions.
For you in church organizations and small communities; share the Gospel with one another and ask for Christ’s guidance before determining group activity.
For you in Catholic schools; use meditation during assembly time to refocus on Christ’s vision to ensure that the education process serves to humanize all involved.
For you in charitable and social work; contemplate Christ’s love for the poor to purify your motives in serving the marginalized and disadvantaged.
For you in business; call to heart the beatitudes of Christ so that your dealings are just and fair in God’s eyes.
For you in community leadership; appeal to the social teachings of Christ before considering how to shape public policy and to develop society for the common good.
For you in the ministry of catechesis; spend time before the Blessed Sacrament so that the lessons you plan reflect the mind of God.
For you in pastoral councils and parish leadership; call yourselves into the presence of Christ before convening meetings to deliberate the welfare of the flock.
Let all our doings, including the religious acts of fasting and almsgiving, be our response to the discernment of God’s will so that despite living in a ‘wilderness of meaning’ our purpose is fixed on Christ. It is my prayer that each one of you, my dear brothers and sisters, find renewed meaning and holiness for your life this Lent as the Church moves in one heart and one mind towards the celebration of Easter.
Your servant in the Lord,
Archbishop Nicholas Chia