First of all, I wish to congratulate the Catholic Lawyers’ Apostolate for successfully organising this so-called “Red Mass,” the votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, for all administrators of justice. I would like to specially thank Bishop Datuk Julius for his presence this morning. It shows that this is an event not only for KK but for the entire local Church in Sabah. Also to our priests (…) who come to support and concelebrate. Thanks also go to each and every one of you, for your time and efforts to be present in this Red Mass.
This is the second time we have such a service, the first being last year, where it was held at the Church of Mary Immaculate Bukit Padang. I believe some of you were there, and you were glad to have the opportunity to come together as Catholic lawyers, listening to the Word of God, receiving Him in Holy Communion, and praying together to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance in your profession.
If you source information about Red Mass in the Internet, you would find out that the first recorded Red Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral of Paris in the year 1245. From then on it spread to other parts of Europe, America and the rest of the world.
It is called Red Mass because of the red vestment used by the celebrants. In some countries, the judges put on red robes. And so the Mass is traditionally called Red Mass.
Through the Red Mass, the Church prays to the Holy Spirit for all those who are in the position to administer justice in society, so that the God-given power and responsibility is properly and justly exercised.
In our globalised society, there is a tendency among people to bend rules and laws simply to achieve one’s own selfish agenda. There are also people who are prepared to forgo justice and fairness as long as the financial reward is attractive. Yet there are others who place personal freedom above the common good. As legal professionals, you are entrusted to maintain and uphold justice for the good of all.
Since your actions and decisions can determine the fate of an individual who seeks for justice, your profession as legal practitioners should not be seen merely as a career. Yours is a vocation, a mission entrusted to you by God to dispense justice for His people.
If this is the case, then as believers, I hope your Christian faith has and will continue to influence you in the way you interpret and defend cases that are brought to your attention. I know it is not easy, especially if you are surrounded by people who do not even believe in God. Therefore, you will need the Holy Spirit, who is given to you during baptism and confirmation, as your Advocate. This Red Mass is an opportunity for you to come to the Holy Spirit together and pray for His guidance. As years go by, I hope you can make other lawyers realise the need to come to Him too.
Finally, dear friends, many of you may be aware that the Church has declared this year a Year of Faith. It started on 11 October last year and ends on 24 November this year. During this period, Catholics throughout the world are invited to re-examine their own faith. What do we actually believe? How do we celebrate our faith? How do we live that faith?
In conjunction with the Year of Faith, I wish to invite all of you to make time to re-examine your own faith too. May be our Catholic Lawyers Apostolate could organise something along this line some time this year. When you are firm in faith, I believe you will find your vocation as adminstrators of justice a blessing to the society.
May God bless you and your families. Thank you.