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Advent Message 2022 by Archbishop John Wong

Nov 24 2022

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The quality and grandeur of any celebration at all depends on the amount of preparation that is invested into it. The more we prepare, the more meaningful the celebration will be. As we approach another Advent season, we bring ourselves once again to a time of anticipation and penitence. The word “Advent” derives from the Latin word “Adventus” which means ‘coming’. The Church calls us at every Advent, to wait, anticipate and prepare for the One whom Isaiah foretold will be called Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14). We wait for our Lord Jesus Christ – not just for His coming at Christmas, but also for His Second coming at the end of time. When we look at Scripture, we see that God did not just come after a decision that was made overnight. Through dynasties, generations and throughout ages, God planned meticulously, for one specific moment – to take flesh and become one of us in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There isn’t a doubt, that for close to 3 years now, we have all been affected by the pandemic. Our lives have changed, and it will never be the same as before. My prayer is that these challenging times have helped us to come down to what truly matters. In the end, it matters only if God is with us. The truth is, He was, He is and He will be. This Advent is an apt season for us to recall and reflect on the tremendous and great love of God in becoming one of us; something that cannot be comprehended by any human mind and heart. Like the Psalmist, many of us may ask, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4) Who are we that God would do this? We may wrestle with our unworthiness but it doesn’t change the fact that God is with us, and God is on our side. Deep and strong is His love, that nothing could stand in His way to take on flesh and become a babe so small and vulnerable, living like one of us in all ways except sin.

As we wait in anticipation this Advent, l would like to urge all of us to look into our own hearts and begin to make room for the coming of our Saviour. The pandemic has taken us through some tough and truly bizarre times. We praise and thank God, that at this point, we can now say that we are recovering quite steadily from the pandemic. It was challenging, and it still is challenging, but God often raises up saints in the most difficult times and the greatest of saints have always lived through the toughest of times. Like St. Francis of Assisi, who heard the voice of our Lord that came from the San Damiano Cross, calling him to “rebuild His Church”, if we would spend time to listen to the voice of God, we may hear Him calling us to do the same; to “rebuild” His House which has been affected by the pandemic, beginning with ourselves.

When God called Francis of Assisi to rebuild His Church, He did not mean it in the physical sense. It was a call to look into his own life, to rebuild a sense of worship towards God, to restore a deep love for God and His people, to turn away from a life of sin, and to be a ‘doer’ of His holy will. This call is still relevant

for all of us today. Each of us make up a part of the Church of Christ and His mystical Body. We may want to ask ourselves: How has the pandemic affected me? How is my relationship with God and those around me now? Am I being complacent? Christ calls us out of the darkness, and into the light. He is God of the living, not of the dead. (Luke 20:38) Therefore, let us respond by allowing Him to bring us life. We cannot simply just go back to where things were before the pandemic, but instead, allow the Holy Spirit to move us deeper in our life with God, with more urgency as we also prepare for the second coming of Christ at the end of time. Let us pray asking the Lord to “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvellous exchange”: O marvellous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.” (CCC #526) Christ is the One whose coming we wait for, and yet even in our preparation and anticipation for Him, He never abandons us. He forms us and fills us with Himself if we allow Him to, and if we hang on to Him, the mystery of “Emmanuel, God with us” will be fulfilled in each of our hearts this Christmas. Just as Christ Himself showed His Most Sacred Heart burning with love for each of us without reservations, let us not withhold our hearts from Him this Advent because He can only love us! It is He Who can warm our hearts with love, and burn away the indifference we may have. Only then we can have a heart to reach out to those around us. We give Christ our humanity and He gives us His divinity! O what a marvellous exchange indeed.

I would like to end my message by sharing this quote by Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “God walks into your soul with silent step. God comes to you more than you go to Him. Never will His coming be what you expect, and yet never will it disappoint. The more you respond to His gentle pressure, the greater will be your freedom.” (Venerable Fulton Sheen) I would like to invite all of us to open our hearts to the Redeemer this Advent. Let us not allow this Advent to go by without experiencing His love and His voice speaking to us. May we respond to His love because He never fails. From my heart I wish you all a very blessed Advent and may the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in your heart.

Yours in Christ,

Archbishop John Wong

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