HAVING consulted the College of Consultors, His Grace Most Reverend…
LABUAN – Parish priest Fr Thomas Madanan made the sign of the Cross saying “Yin Fu, Ji Zhi, Ji Sheng Shen Zhi Ming… Amen”, which caught the delighted 250-congregation by surprise at the Chinese New Year (CNY) Thanksgiving Mass at the Church of Blessed Sacrament here Jan 25.
To add to the ambiance at Mass was the vibrant red colour lent by the CNY traditional costume worn by most of the parishioners.
This year’s CNY celebration coincided with the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Fr Madanan highlighted that St Paul was an educated and devoted Jew who was opposed to Christianity and persecuted many until he encountered the Lord on the way to Damascus “Upon hearing the Lord’s voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?’ Paul asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ and the Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me.’” (Acts 22:7-8)
“This means that Christ is truly present in His church; His body. The mystical body of Christ is present in each one of us,” Fr Madanan explained.
He elaborated, this sacred relationship with Jesus is what makes us truly good, not because of our own merits but by God-given grace. Whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, we unite ourselves most intimately with Christ Himself. Therefore, we should strive to be in the state of grace so that we can reach out and bring Christ to others. That is our mission!
Though imperfect as we are, the pastor pointed out that so long as we are open to conversion and humble ourselves, Christ could transform us to be true bearers of the Good News of God’s love and mercy.
But the Good News is not only for human being but also for the entire creation, reasoned Fr Madanan, highlighting the Gospel of Mark “Go out to the whole world,; proclaim the Good News to all creation.”
“This is because we were all created in the love of God, including “the Rat”, whose purpose is towards God alone; perfection in God,” enlightened the pastor. He was referring to the Chinese zodiac symbol for this new lunar year, the Year of the Rat where negative cultural meanings in ancient Chinese sayings are alluded to the Rat.
With words such as these, he urged the faithful to emulate the apostles, who took the great commissioning seriously after they received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and went out to preach the Good News even though they faced opposition.
Besides the bread and wine, gifts meaningful for the occasion as ‘nian kaw’, melon seeds, and ang pow were presented. Flowers, candles, fruits and the Bible were also offered during the Presentation.
After Mass, parishioners gathered to take group photos as it would be the last time CNY Mass would be celebrated at the present church building. The church renovation works would be expected to commence soon.
The parishioners adjourned to the Multipurpose Hall for fellowship and were enthralled by the lion dance performances and fireworks.
As was the CNY tradition, Fr Madanan blessed and distributed mandarin oranges to the parishioners.
Angpow (monetary gifts in red envelope) were also distributed to children below the age of 12 and to the elderly. – SOCCOM Blessed Sacrament