The first day of the Lunar New Year 2016 falls on February 8. Below is a reflection on the Year of the Monkey by Fr Stephen Chin, Sacred Heart Church Kuching.
The Monkey as a Symbol
The monkey is one of the symbolical animals corresponding to the ninth of the twelve terrestrial branches. It is a symbol of ugliness and trickery.
Worshipping the Monkey
The monkey is worshipped to some extent by the Buddhists and Taoists of Folk Religions. According to some opinions, in return for some supposed services rendered to the monk who went to India to obtain the Buddhist scriptures by the command of the Tang Emperor, the monkey was deified or was conferred the title of “The Great Sage equal to Heaven.”
The Power of the Monkey
1. The monkey is believed to have the general control over hobgoblins (mischievous spirits), witches and elves.
2. It is also believed that the monkey is able to bestow health, protection and success on humankind in one way or another by keeping away malicious evil spirits or goblins. Since some people often imagine that sickness or lack of success in study and trade is caused by witches and hobgoblins, the worship of the monkey is necessary in order to drive away or prevent the evil influence of the various evil spirits or powers.
Christian Reflection on the Monkey
The dark side of the monkey: Ugliness and trickery are not for us to emulate. What is ugly? Trickery is ugly. Sin is ugly. Evil is ugly. The works of the devil and evil spirits are ugly. Physical ugliness is not a problem nor a moral evil. It is the spiritual ugliness embodied in sin that is terribly ugly and to be shunned by people of all faiths.
The bright side of the monkey: The sacred books or Buddhist Sacred Scriptures. The monkey is associated with helping the one ordered by the emperor to get the sacred scriptures from Indian to China and is thereby honoured or deified by the emperor.
For us Christians, this reminds us of the messengers sent by God to give us the light of revelation, the word of God, written by people inspired by God, to be handed down for posterity to know and follow – the Sacred Scriptures contained in our Holy Bible. We remember those in the past who helped in spreading the Word of God to others, to sanctify the hearts of people. We also remember those who are now and will be spreading the Holy Word of God that can save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
The Holy Word of God can protect us from all evil influences, all superstitions, all evil spirits and devils. the Holy Word of God bestows health to our souls, brings success to our undertakings or studies and every work be it trade or other works we are engaged in for the Holy Word of God enlightens our minds and hearts, gives peace to our hearts so that we remain holy and healthy in the Lord God, our heavenly King of the universe, for God is our Protector and His Word is infinitely powerful, active, dynamic and effective in sanctifying the hearts of all.
Conclusion: New Year Resolutions
In our new year resolutions:
1. Let us have no dealings with the evil one, the devil, portrayed by the dark side of the monkey before its ‘sanctification.’ Let us never turn to sin for happiness for it is ugly and harmful to us. Let us not turn to trickery to obtain what we want, that is, let us not do “any monkey business.”
2. Let us have recourse to God for protection, good health and success in our new year undertakings.
3. Let us have recourse to Holy Scriptures, the Holy Word of God. For the Holy Word of God is our guide, our light, our strength and our salvation.
May we turn to the Holy Word of God in season and out of season for our spiritual nourishment, at all times, for all the years of our life.
May the good Lord Jesus who came to reveal to us the Word of God and who came to save, protect, forgive, sanctify and serve us even unto death on the cross, bless everyone in the world, and all of us during the Lunar New Year of the Monkey and all the years to come.
Wishing you all a very happy and blessed New Year!