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In his Christmas message published in Catholic Sabah (17.12.2017), Keningau prelate Bishop Cornelius Piong says that Christmas is God’s love expression to humanity. Below is the full text:
The mood of Christmas celebration is always felt at the end of each year. There are always Christmas songs, Christmas sales, Christmas feasting and many others. However, what actually is Christmas? We, the faithful, are easily attracted and influenced by external signs of Christmas until we forget about the spirit and true purpose of Christmas.
The birth of Jesus, God’s only Son, that we celebrate on Christmas is, in fact, God’s love expression to us, human beings. God who is always communicating with us has finally sent His Son Jesus as a channel of communication and of His love with us (Heb 1:1-2, John 3:16).
Since the birth of Jesus in this world, we are able to experience God’s presence, communication and love relationship; and this brings hope and meaning to our lives. Celebrating Christmas based on worldly influences and parties (semangat ramai-ramai), surely will not bring in or leave any good and useful impact when we take up our daily life challenges.
The Church hopes that during Advent, we will be in silence and use it for reflection so that we will be able to celebrate Christmas with the true purpose as intended by God, that is to develop His communication and relationship with humanity for eternity.
While facing our daily life challenges, we are grateful because Jesus Himself has promised to be with us until the end of time (Mat 28:20). In facing life challenges as an individual, which involves family, community and the society, Jesus always invites us to go to Him, to listen and to do His words. (Mt 11:28, Lk 6:47-48).
As members of the Church, we need to be alert and careful while facing challenges within our family, community and society as a whole.
- Nowadays, are the heavy and many challenges faced by our families the determinants of our future, world, country and the church?
- With strong and attractive influence of mass media and electronic media nowadays, as faithful, can we (parents, youth, children) own the gadgets without being a slave to it?
- What about God’s creation which is dwindling down in quality for the sake of development and success? We can see happening nowadays, apathy and disrespect of God’s creation, which cause floods, landslides, and numerous other natural disasters.
- In carrying out leadership duties and service, are we able to lead and serve in accordance with Jesus’ ways and teaching? (Mt 20:28). In the coming GE14, as citizens and politicians, are we able to fight for love, justice and peace for the well being and prosperity of our multi-cultural society? Or is it merely leadership and service for self, for own race and own religion only?
Brothers and sisters, Christmas is an opportunity for us to realise that Jesus is ‘Emmanuel,’ God is with us (Mt 1:23). Jesus came to the world to enlighten humanity (John 1:9). Jesus who came is the source of wisdom (Mt.13:54; Lk. 2:52), which is needed by human beings to live together in truth, prosperity, and joy (Rom 14:17).
May Christmas 2017 be an opportunity for us to improve our knowledge of, love of and service to Jesus, because He is our only source of hope, peace and mercy in this challenging journey of life.
Blessed Christmas 2017 and a Happy New Year 2018.