Kenson koh talk

Pray for the grace to those who are tested positive for HIV/AIDS and help them regain their dignity and give them hope to continue to live fulfilling lives. This call was made by Father Kenson Koh, Spiritual Director of the Catholic AIDS Response Effort (CARE).

Show them love instead of discrimination so that they may truly experience the love of God. He spoke about the many who have tested positive for HIV/AIDS and are afraid to reveal their identities for fear of condemnation and ostracism by the community.

Fr Kenson was addressing the faithful who attended the annual World AIDS Day Mass on Dec 2 at the Novena Church. It was attended by some 1,500 people including staff, volunteers and residents from the CARE shelter.

In his homily, Fr Kenson told the story of a man and his daughter who were trapped under rubble after an explosion on Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, marks the day World War One ended in 1918.

The father and daughter held hands to encourage each other to stay alive. Each time the father asked the daughter whether she was alright, she would answer that she was okay. Before she died, she said, “Dad, I love you very much.”

Later on, when the father was interviewed, he said he bore no grudge and was able to forgive those responsible for his daughter’s death. This was because his daughter’s remarks and reassurance before she died showed him that love conquers all.

How could he expect to receive God’s forgiveness if he responded in anger and did not forgive those who hurt him?

Often humans react in anger and retaliation. That is because we understand justice differently from God. God’s justice is His righteousness and takes the form of mercy, compassion and forgiveness, said Fr Kenson.

In the same light, when confronted with someone who is HIV-positive, whether a family member, a friend or colleague, how do we respond? Instead of discriminating against the person, Jesus taught us to uphold him in dignity. In other words, hold them in Christian friendship and in brotherly love, Fr Kenson said.

After Mass, there was a sale of items made by CARE residents. They were moved to see many of the faithful showing their support by buying rosaries, crucifixes and candles.

This annual event is organised by Catholic AIDS Response Effort (CARE), a Catholic charity operating under the umbrella of Caritas Singapore. It provides support to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Singapore and runs a shelter for men with HIV/AIDS who are rejected by their families and are homeless.