PENAMPANG – The Chinese community around the world is preparing to bid farewell to the Year of the Rooster and welcome the Year of the Dog, which begins on Feb 16.
The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar and features 12 Chinese zodiac signs. They are represented by animals that occur in the following sequence: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Combined with the Chinese five atomic elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth, they form 60 possible combinations so, in fact, 2018 is the Year of the Earth Dog.
Below is the message of Archbishop John Wong to the Chinese faithful in the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese on the occasion:
As spring of the new year is approaching, may the Lord bless you with His peace and good health.
This year, we celebrate the Year of the Dog. As the dogs bark (汪汪, which is pronounced as ‘wang wang’), they sound like the Chinese character “Prosperous” (旺, pronounced as wang). For the Chinese, this is one of the favourite characters. Hence,as we enter into this New Year of the Dog, we may be blessed with an abundant harvest and thriving careers and businesses. However, circumstances may often turn out to be against our hopes and wishes. As such, we are to shift our wishes for “prosperity” (旺) into “hope” (望, also pronounced as wang), praying that in good times or bad times, we will be filled with hope. It is hoped that in time of crisis, it will be turned into an opportunity.
In fact, at every turn of a new year, let us not put our focus and hope solely in prosperity and wealth. Jesus has come into the world to bring us new perspectives, broaden our vision, and change our thoughts and values, especially in terms of our behaviour and moral values. He has come to bring us life eternal. Although the world is well-advanced in information technology and the growing abundance in material goods, we are sad to witness the deterioration in morality, care and love, etc. The world is filled with fraud, theft, sexual harassment, violence and murder. Genuine friendships are rare for many of them are built upon personal interests and profits.
Brothers and sisters, we know that we cannot attain true peace and happiness from wealth and pleasures of the world, but from a purpose-filled life, as the saying goes: The foundation of happiness stems from reaching out to others. For this reason, true happiness comes from serving and giving, not wealth. On top of that, a fulfilling life is not measured by how much we own, but by how much we have given, like Jesus who has lived his whole life in loving and serving, the total gift of self.
At the end of the year, the Chinese of our nation will pick a significant Chinese character. which reflects the aspirations of the people to conclude the year. This year, the character chosen is “road (路).” I am sure that as we face the economic downturn, some of us cannot make ends meet. For this, we want to find a way out, especially financially. On the other hand, many of us are at the crossroads feeling lost and worried about our lives, careers and businesses. We are striving to ensure that our lives do not come to a dead-end.
Jesus once said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14: 6). Not only that He shows us the way that leads to eternal life, He also indicates the right path we should take in this earthly journey. His way is different from the ways of the world and our ways. His way is a practical, simple and straight-forward. It is also a road filled with love, peace, forgiveness, acceptance and humility, one that is filled with goodness for ourselves and others.
The worldly ways often lead us unscrupulously towards prosperity, fame and power. When we own it all, we lose ourselves and make many vicious decisions for own interests and profits, endangering the community and causing chaos to the world.
Life is like a journey, from birth to our passing from this world. We cannot predict the length of this journey, but we are sure that it will come to an end. In this journey, there are times of uncertainty, anxiety and loss. We are bound to encounter many failures, difficulties, pains, trials, temptations and disappointments. Whatever it is, we are called to be courageous, striving continuously because Jesus is with us always. He will never abandon us. These trials and experiences will enrich our lives, leading us to a wonderful and fulfilling journey.
The most important thing in life is to choose the right path to tread on. Some paths allow us to turn back and start over again. Others do not, for example: drug trafficking, murder and committing serious crimes. Therefore, we should be very cautious in the decisions we make. What is most important is to call on God to guide our every step and decision so that our choices are made according to His Will.
On this occasion of the New Year, I would like to encourage you with these words from the Bible: Thus says the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD, your God,teaching you how to prevail,leading you on the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48: 17) and the famous Chinese saying: “When the door is closed, He opens the window.” As long as one is willing to work hard and bravely tread on one’s path, he/she will find a way out. With this, let us be filled with hope and faith for this New Year, because we know that God is with us and He will surely bless us and lead us. – ucanews.com/various sources