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Archbishop Wong: True richness in our hearts is to find countless graces from God

KARAMUNSING – Over fifteen hundred of grateful parishioners, most of whom attired in traditional Chinese costumes of both red and golden hues, attended the Thanksgiving Mass celebration on the first day of the Chinese New Year of the Golden Rat 2020 Jan 25 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The main celebrant was Archbishop John Wong, who was assisted at the altar by concelebrants comprising Emeritus Archbishop John Lee, Fr Paul Lo, Fr Saimon William, Fr Russell Lawrine, Fr Cosmos Lee, Fr Francis Tsen, Fr Mattheus Luta, Korean priests Fr Lawrence Kim and Fr Andrew Kim. The bishops wore red chasubles, while the clergy wore red stoles, red being the auspicious color for the Chinese culture.

As was the parish tradition, a Drum Ceremony before Mass was presented by 13 children. Drums are considered one of the instruments that are used to praise and worship God since ancient Chinese history. The sound of the Chinese drum beatings, which indicates power and strength, brings up the atmosphere of Lunar New Year.

After Fr Paul proclaimed the Gospel in Mandarin, Archbishop Wong wished the parishioners a “Happy Lunar New Year”.

Developing his homily, he explored the word “shu”, which means “to count” but which sounds as “rat”, was widely used to wish people countless wealth and prosperity.

He went on to tell a story about the meaning of “wealth to the eyes of the beholder”, with the opening line “Many people blindly worked hard all their lives to gain wealth. However, what is true wealth?”

“Gratitude is an important key to wealth,” asserted the prelate. In this common world, people judge “success” by what others own; position held; things done; and thus many people endeavour towards those material things in order to gain respect from others; so much so that they began to lose themselves to fear, anxiety, loneliness and more.”

In today’s Gospel, explained the Archbishop, our Father clearly told us that whatever we need and search for, our Father already knew before we were born as He is the one who made the world and us. He made it all with beauty and abundance of food and wealth as He loved us all.

“Our God longs for us to repent and to turn back to Him for He has given us many chances as He has promised us with His covenant of eternal life.

“If we reflect and take notice, everything around us are given to us for free; and what we are offering back to God, is what He has given us,” said the Archbishop.

Hence on this special occasion, he reminded the congregation that we should go back to the center of our lives where God is, and give thanks to Him. We need to search for Him and listen to His words, as only in Him, we can find our true sense of belonging, of being at home in His Kingdom and be with Him forever.

In conclusion, Archbishop wished everyone in this “Shu” (Rat) Year, that to find countless graces and wealth from God is the true richness in our hearts.

During the Presentation of Gifts, as a yearly tradition, meaningful gifts that resonated with the occasion were offered: candles, signify living in the Light of Jesus; flowers, signifying the hope, beauty, joy and love that God gives us through nature; fruits and vegetables, signifying the action through which we bring Jesus’ love as well as bearing of fruits of repentance and renewal; New Year cake symbolizing prosperity; melon seeds signifying God’s children in sum and unity; money symbols signifying our appreciation, respect and support for Mother Church; and last but not least, the gifts of bread and wine.

After Mass, the representatives of the SHC Chinese Coordinating Committee presented “angpows” to the Archbishops, the concelebrants and the Religious Sisters. Archbishop Wong then blessed the baskets of Mandarin oranges, which symbolized “sweetness to come”, and distributed them to the parishioners, together with the clergy.

All adjourned to the parish hall foyer and were entertained by the traditional Lion Dance performers.The parishioners mingled around and greeted each other with new year well-wishes as the festive celebration concluded with faith, love and hope for the new year. Susanna Lye

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