Archbishop William Goh’s Lenten Message 2014

February 24, 2015 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

MANIFESTING THE FACE OF A LOVING AND COMPASSIONATE FATHER

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Lent is once again upon us. We have made this journey many times.  For some, it is embarked on with a certain degree of dread, because it is viewed as a time of deprivation and penance, especially when it comes hot on the heels of a series of festivities.  Yet, the Church invites us to welcome this season as a time to renew our baptismal promises and identity ourselves as God’s sons and daughters.  This calls for internal renewal, reflection on the mystery of the Father’s immense love for us; contemplation on the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, and our calling to manifest the mercy and compassion of the Father to a world that no longer believes in the goodness of man, much less a God who desires nothing more than to be one with us, even at the cost of sacrificing His only begotten Son for our salvation.

This desire of God to be close to us is expressed in His Incarnation at Christmas and finds its perfect fulfilment in the paschal mystery.  St John tells us that “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (Jn 1:14).  St Paul captured this in the Kenosis “though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:6-8). It is truly through internalizing these texts that we reflect on the true nature of God who is compassion and love. Jesus, true God and true man, desires to enter into our suffering. Indeed, He is a God to whom we call our stronghold, our fortress and our Shepherd. God has shown His solidarity with humanity through the Incarnation of Christ through Jesus’ birth.

Through this solidarity, we are also reminded of our identity in Christ, as sons and daughters of God. In Christ, we are called to fullness of life which cannot be separated from fellowship with others. The fraternal bonds that we have with our brothers and sisters distinguish us as true disciples of Christ. Our love of God cannot be separate from love of neighbour. (Mk 12:29). Since it is God who has loved us first, we cannot but respond to His love which He has poured into our hearts.

How, then, do we respond to His love? In love and compassion for our neighbours! Jesus was moved with love and compassion for the leper (Mark 1:3), the adulteress women (Matt 8:1), the crowds who were lost and had no shepherd (Matt 9:35). Through compassion and love, He was moved to help those who needed him.  The Church must again be seen as a Church of mercy and compassion, truly the sacrament of God’s mercy and compassion in Christ.

This Lent, I ask you to let yourself be moved by the sufferings of others, the poor, outcast, marginalized and those ostracized by society beginning with our family. Witnessing the sufferings of others cannot but move us to act, for the love of Christ compels us (2 Cor 5:14). We cannot stand and call ourselves Christians when we are unmoved by the suffering that is so prevalent in this world due to the manifestation of sin.

But this compassion must be rooted in prayer, fasting and especially a more profound contemplation of the Passion of our Lord, reflecting on His life, death and resurrection so that we can also empty ourselves in humility and love. May the love and tenderness of Christ fill us with compassion and love, so that we may be a visible sign of His love and mercy in this world that so desperately needs the touch of God. We are by extension, His hands and feet in this world. It is through extending compassion to others that our humanity grows into fullness.

I pray that this Lent will be a true conversion of our hearts and minds as we offer ourselves to Christ, in order that we may be witnesses of His love.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all (1 Th 3:12). Let us take up our cross and follow Him in the way of Christ who poured out His life for us all. Let us carry our burdens and crosses with each other, together in solidarity. May we bring forth new heavens and new earth through shining the face of Christ to all those whom we encounter!

Yours in Christ,

 

Archbishop William Goh

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Entry filed under: Events.

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