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Abp Wong urges the faithful to return to simplicity, humility and detachment in his Christmas message

silent night“Silent Night, Holy Night…” the evergreen traditional Christmas hymn is already in the air, setting shoppers on a frenzy of buying, hyping up on parties and merry making.   People readily exchange Christmas wishes without even any reference to its true meaning. There is nothing wrong with all these in themselves, but for Christian believers, there is a definite sadness to see how Christmas has been so much secularised that the key reason – the Incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ, is no longer relevant in the festivity.

Living in a digital world that feeds and overloads one with instant information virtually leaves one with no time to pause and ponder, no time to discern, and no room for contemplation. On the other hand, for the non-tech, whose life is not given into the control of technology, find themselves facing a bleak future that is slowly being robbed of its joy, laughter and purpose of life by the burden of an economy that favours escalating food prices, higher property prices, imported inflation, rampant corruption and a regressive tax system.

Saddled with so much contradictions and uncertainties, will this Christmas make a difference? Yes, it will, only if we enter into the silence of our heart to contemplate the true meaning of the “Silent Night”.

Jesus, the Incarnated Word of God, was born in a humble stable, into a poor family. Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty, heaven’s glory was made manifest. (CCC No. 525) This happened in the silence of the night, at a time when even the drop of a pin could be heard. We, too, need the silence to hear the whisper of God speaking to us amidst the din of noises in this busy world.

With His birth, there is no more demarcation between the divine and human, between God and humankind, and among humans, as all are meant to be brothers and sisters. What does this imply in reality?

It means that through Jesus, in Jesus, and with Jesus, human beings are no longer defeated and dejected creatures. The Saviour of the world has come. He comes to dispel the darkness of sin and liberates humankind from the slavery of the evil one. For, as the source of light, Jesus enlightens us of our true worth as children of God (cf. Jn 1:12). In Jesus, we are born again. Our Catechism says, “To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the Kingdom. For this we must humble ourselves and become little.” (CCC No. 526)

What then is the meaning of life? Why should we do good? But the contradictions and uncertainties around us demand us to search for “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (cf. Jn.14:6). In other words, the answer is to be found in the person of Jesus, the Son of the Living God who says, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).

Evil still multiplies. Injustices may still rule. Lies, threats, oppressions and selfishness may triumph, but at the end our Faith tells us that LOVE will prevail because God is Love (1 Jn 4:8).

It is true that in each of us there might still be personal doubts and anxieties, yet Jesus our Saviour has come to bring HOPE, COMFORT and JOY. What then is there to be afraid of? Has not the angel said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for all people. For today in the city of David a Saviour has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord” (Lk 2:10-11)?

The world rejected Him outright on the day He was born. There was not even a decent bed for Him to be laid upon. Despite this, there was no self-pity, no complaint, and no regret. He came simply and humbly with a purpose, a mission: to show the world the love and mercy of the Father. He came to restore human being to his/her original dignified self as a child of God. Throughout His whole life, He has never failed to show what compassion and love is. His words and deeds have even defied human logic. Indeed, by forgiving those who condemned Him to death, He becomes the face of the Mercy of God.

Let us enter into the silence of our hearts to encounter our true identity as children of God. This discovery will bring us peace, joy and love even in the absence of comfort, wealth or health. The Christmas event urges us to re-examine our perspectives of life, and to return to a life of simplicity, humility and detachment. Only in this way will our life’s witness transform the world and correct the distorted image of Christmas.

A blessed Christmas to you all!

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