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shepherds-voiceGood evening to each and everyone of you, especially to all the office bearers and members of Women’s League of Sacred Heart.  First of all, my sincere congratulations to you on the occasion of your 43rd anniversary.

I remember last year around this time we were here in this restaurant to celebrate your 42nd anniversary.

Time passes very quickly nowadays.  One day is like one hour.  One week is like one day.  One month is like one week.  One year is like one month.  When time passes very quickly, it means each of us is getting older fast.  But it also means that we are moving faster towards our heavenly home.

This reminds us that we need to prepare well for our home journey.  Are we ready to meet Our Lord when He calls us?  Are we confident that we will be allowed to enter the gate of heaven?

I ask these questions because the timing of your annual anniversary coincides with the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of the season of Advent.  And you know that during Advent we are reminded of the second coming.

So I think it is appropriate too that, as you celebrate the joy of your anniversary, you also keep in mind your “home journey” and the “heavenly banquet” promised to us.

Dear friends, last year during dinner address, I mentioned to you about the words of Pope Francis, how he sees the important role of women in the Church, and how he links that role to that of the Virgin Mary.  This evening I wish to again stress on this point.

Sometimes, as human beings, there is always a temptation for us to seek for recognition, for status and for power, even in the name of service to the Church.  There is also the temptation “to want our services to be seen publicly.”

Pope Francis, in his new encyclical “Joy of the Gospel,” calls this temptation as “spiritual worldliness.”  He reminds all the bishops, priests, religious and lay people to be aware of this and not to fall into such temptation; because it will destroy whatever good we do in the name of “service to the Church.”

Mother Mary has the most significant role in the history of salvation.  Yet she remains in the background most of her life.  Her song  “Magnificat” reflects her humility.  She knows she is only a handmaid of the Lord, nothing else.  Such attitude has placed her  above all the apostles and saints.

I can understand now why Pope Francis wants all Catholic women to take after Mary as they play their role in the service of the Church.

This evening as we sit around the tables to share our stories over the meal, it is my hope that we will keep  in mind the words of our Holy Father, to avoid the temptation of “spiritual worldliness,” so that we can be worthy instruments of God in the mission of the Church.

Thank you and God bless all of you.


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