Tag Archives: reflection

Reflection on the Year of the Monkey

The first day of the Lunar New Year 2016 falls on February 8.  Below is a reflection on the Year of the 1-10-Unze-Gold-Lunar-II-Affe-2016-Australien-Proof-Perth-Mint_1Monkey 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!

Dialogue and encounter with the peoples of Asia


On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all. Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29). But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and our fundamental point of reference, which guides us to our destination? Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians. We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity. Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak. In other words, an attentiveness in which the Holy Spirit is our guide. If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us. Fearlessly, for fear is the enemy of this kind of openness.

The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways. I would like to point to three of these. One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth. Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.

A second way in which the world threatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10). In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem. Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree. An agreement to disagree… so as not to make waves… This sort of superficiality does us great harm.

Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations.

Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns. This capacity for empathy leads to a genuine encounter – we have to progress toward this culture of encounter – in which heart speaks to heart. […] – For full text on Pope Francis’ Evangelistic Intention for Feb 2016 @ www.apmej.net

2016 Peace Day Message: Overcome indifference and win peace

Referencing the theme of the message, the Holy Father then highlighted various forms of indifference in society. First, there is indifference to God, which in turn leads to indifference to one’s neighbour and subsequently to the environment.

Pope Francis also addressed what he referred to as an “indifference to mercy,” as seen with the Genesis account of Cain murdering his brother Abel. In contrast, God intervenes, the message reads: “He sees, hears, comes down, and delivers. God does not remain indifferent. He is attentive and He acts.”

“Mercy is the heart of God,” the Pope writes, and therefore must be the heart of all His children.

Pope Francis said we are called to “compassion, love, mercy and solidarity” in our relationships with one another. He added that “the conversion of our hearts” is needed for us to become “open to others in authentic solidarity.” The Pope called for the building of a culture of solidarity and mercy in order to overcome indifference.

This begins with families, which are the “first place where the values of love, fraternity, togetherness and sharing, concern and care for others are lived out and handed on.” He spoke also of the role of teachers, and communicators. The Pope added that communicators in particular should be “mindful” of how they obtain and disseminate information, saying their methods should always be “legally and morally admissible.”

Pope Francis went on to say that peace is the fruit of a culture of solidarity, mercy, and compassion.

It is also a sign of the Jubilee of Mercy, which began 8 Dec, in which all are called to recognize indifference, and “improve the world around us.”

The Holy Father said these efforts begin with our families, neighbours, and places of employment. They extend to civil society’s care for vulnerable persons, such as “prisoners, migrants, the unemployed, and the infirm.”

On the subject of migrants, the Pope asked that legislation on migration be reviewed, in a way that facilitates their integration into society, with special attention given to legal residency in order to avoid criminal behaviour.

Pope Francis appealed to national leaders to offer assistance to men and women suffering from lack of work, land, and lodging. – Vatican Radio

Sandakan Diocese gearing up to be a Missionary Church

Sandakan pastoral leaders pose in front of the pastoral centre with the apostolic nuncio.

Sandakan pastoral leaders pose in front of the pastoral centre with the apostolic nuncio.

TELUPID – The two-day event to mark the 8th Anniversary of the Diocese of Sandakan kicked off with a formation session for some 110 people, comprising  clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese.  The formation, held at the Sabah Forestry Institute, Telupid on Oct 13, was facilitated by Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia.   Also present were Bishop Julius Gitom, and Bishop Cornelius Piong of Keningau.

Drawing from the letters of St Paul, Archbishop Marino enlightened the participants that the whole idea of Christian life is to be formed and be conformed to that of Jesus Christ.  He said that the session would touch on the type of formation and mentality we should possess in the Church today as proposed by Pope Francis.

He shared on the qualities of a missionary church based on Pope Francis’ Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).

He cited the address of the Holy Father, then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, before the conclave, in four short and concise paragraphs:

  1. In evangelization, the Church must come out of herself to reach out to the peripheries.
  2. If the Church remains within, the church is self-referential keeping Jesus locked inside. She tends to be sick.
  3. If the church remains self-referential, she ceases to be concerned about the world. She looks only at herself.
  4. In contemplation and adoration, it helps the church to go forth and be a fruitful mother caring for the world and bringing others to the church. In so doing, we find our joy whenever we bring Jesus out.

It is not how much doctrine that we give but how much love we put in as we reach out to others. Thus, it is linked to how we think, involving our attitude, to bring the joy of the Gospel to the people.

The Church that goes forth should be a joyful Church. The Holy Father envisions a community which moves out from itself in personal encounters with people, sharing with them the beauty of the Gospel from which we experience the mercy and joy flowing from God’s love.

The second reflection was on the challenges facing pastoral agents. The nuncio said that we are often too concerned about external forces we think threaten the church. However, we ought to redirect our attention to challenges that come from within the church (EG #76-109).

Some of the challenges encountered by pastoral workers were listed: heightened individualism, inferiority complex, relativism, apathy, ‘tomb’ psychology, pessimism and spiritual worldliness.

The third reflection centred on the Extraordinary Year of Mercy which, on 13 March 2015, the Holy Father announced an extraordinary jubilee which has at its centre the mercy of God. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6 : 36), animating the church, ‘in her mission to bring the Gospel of Mercy to each person.’

The prelate explained  the meaning of the Year of Mercy, from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016. The goals of this special time of grace are:

  1. to experience strongly within ourselves the joy of having been found by Jesus, the Good Shepherd who has come in search of us because we are lost;
  2. to be transformed by his mercy so that we may be witnesses to mercy, and
  3. to rediscover and enter into the ‘logic of God.’

The nuncio said It is important to understand  why Pope Francis constantly repeats the word  mercy, insisting upon it without hesitation.  If we have received and touched by the mercy of God, he continued, should we not do the same to others? It is a call to everyone to be witnesses of mercy, sharing with others the mercy we have received.

“We learn of the parable of the healing of the leper where Pope Francis stated the ‘why’ of Christ’s mission: to show compassion, to reach out and find those who are marginalized and to reinstate them,” the archbishop added.

In conclusion, he cited the reflection by the Holy Father given on 11 April 2015, “This is the time for mercy…..to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see, and to touch with their hands, the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Bishop Julius announced that the clergy, in its recent meeting, has proposed some activities to commemorate the Year of Mercy, particularly the opening of the Holy Door of Mercy at the cathedral. These activities will be a time to manifest mercy to everyone. – DOSPO, DS


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