Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters,
With great affection and solidarity in our desire for peace, I wish you God’s continued blessings as you conclude the month of Ramadan, a special time of spiritual renewal. May His bounteous favour be upon you, your families and all Muslim communities as you emerge reinvigorated in your faith through your month-long practice of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
These spiritual exercises, besides helping us to deepen our relationship with God and neighbour, are certainly critical in helping us to be more sensitive and compassionate towards those who are in need. Indeed, the love of God and of neighbour and towards oneself is intrinsically linked. “‘…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31f; cf Dt 6:5, Lev 19:18)
They are like a tripod in which love is founded and strengthened. Faith without good works is dead. Indeed St John reminds us, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”(1 Jn 3:17f)
Pope Francis declared this year, 2016, as the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. Catholics in particular are called to exercise greater responsibility towards those in need through charitable works and compassion for the weak and forgiveness of our enemies and those who have hurt us.
In an address to the young people at the start of the year, the Pope urged them to be more merciful. This is a love which makes courageous and generous choices and decisions daily, even through little things. He reminded them to remain steadfast in the faith and have the courage to swim against the tide.
These are virtues which we can certainly emulate from our Muslim brothers and sisters, especially in your exemplary care and concern for one another in your community. You have extended your love and compassion beyond your members to the wider community.
As leaders of our faiths, let us work towards enlarging this community of love, creating waves of mercy and compassion across our Singapore society and beyond our shores, so that the world can be a better place to live in, not just for ourselves, but for our children, and our children’s children.
I am very grateful for the fraternal love and friendship between Muslims and Catholics. I pray that our friendship and mutual respect for each other will grow and deepen over the years so that together, the love and mercy of God could be encountered through our common love for God and our neighbours.
On behalf of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, I sincerely extend my very warm and sincere wish that you may all have a most joyous and enriching celebration of holy Hari Raya Aidilfitri!
Most Rev William Goh, D.D., STL
Archbishop of Singapore
Msgr Philip Heng, S.J.
Vicar General (Interreligious Relations)