9th Red Mass – 8th February 2020, St. Aloysius Limbanak
Good morning to you, honourable members of the legal fraternity and members of your family and friends. Datuk-Datuk, Datin-Datin, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Last year in the Red Mass at Stella Maris, Tanjong Aru, I spoke to you about the reality in today’s life, that many people are not living in peace with oneself or with one another. Stress, pressures, greed, vengeance, negative influences, egoistic tendencies are some of the causes. That is why there are increasing cases of people causing hurt to themselves or to others. And that is why we need judges and lawyers to help maintain public order, with the hope to gradually reform the society, so that we have a better and peaceful world to live. For that, the Church looks highly upon your profession. Yours is not only a career, but above all, it is a calling, a vocation.
But to live your calling well, you would have to have peace within yourselves and peace with others: a peace that is not secured by material gains, but by having Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, reign in your life.
In the Scriptures, Scribes and Pharisees are people who are judges on matters of the Law of Moses. They are the regulators of good behaviour in society. But Jesus rebuked them because they made life for others’ difficult through their ego-centric way of life. Instead of assuring and affirming, they took advantage of their position to bully and oppress.
As advocators and dispensers of justice in today’s world, there are always temptations to become the likes of the scribes and Pharisees: interpreting the laws to suit your clients or paymasters. There are also moments when one is tempted to compromise one’s Christian faith for financial gains. Such temptations are real, and they are faced by other professionals too.
The Church understands the challenges of our professionals in the world. That is why she offers to help by encouraging lay apostolates and ministries to be set up.
Many years ago, our diocese set up a body called the Sabah Catholic Lawyers Apostolate with the aims to create a supportive fraternity among Catholic legal practitioners so that they could witness their faith in their profession, and at the same time, to support the diocese in dealing with cases regarding problems in official documents such as mykads.
After more than eight years, I hope the apostolate has grown in size. I remember giving a suggestion last year for you to organize study days on the Word of God and Teachings of the Church as a means to strengthen each other. Hopefully, this recommendation is being implemented so that the Word of God guides your vocation.
Since the Apostolate was set up by the diocese, we hope to look into this. So, we need feedback from you as we try to empower the Apostolate. Let us join hands to inject life to the Apostolate for the good of all Catholic Lawyers in our Archdiocese.
Before I end my speech, I would like to thank the organizers of this Red Mass for their time and efforts, and to the parish priest of Penampang for the use of this church.
Let us move on from here, to live out our vocation as promoters and defenders of justice of the common good.
Thank you and God bless you all.