KOTA KINABALU – Taking the theme “A sincere gift of self to one another,” Archbishop John Wong challenged over 200 couples at the Couples’ Night dinner to discover what “the gift of oneself” concretely means to them.
The first-ever gathering for married couples, which was organised by the Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community, hosted a 44-table cosy dinner affair at a local restaurant here. Archbishop John Wong, who was also the President of the Episcopal Regional Commission for Family Life, was accompanied by Fr Rhobby Mojolou.
Beginning his discourse on what he called the “Mystery of Giving,” he offered a three-point reflection. He named the first “A Misconception of Giving” and explained that many people think that “giving is a losing game,” and that “when you give, you lose something.” “That’s why people are afraid to give because it means they will have lesser or they will be a loser, contrary to the human ego which must have more in order to feel secure, to be someone, and to be better than others,” he continued.
“But is this true? Is giving a losing game? Is it a minus game?” asked Archbishop Wong in his keynote address, enjoying the uniqueness of his and Fr Rhobby’s ‘bachelor’ presence among the marrieds. He explained, “The concept of ‘giving’ from the beginning is meant to be an expression of sharing, especially in giving life to another…” and added, “Giving is both an emptying and refilling process. When we give, we empty what we already have, and God refills us with new gifts, blessings and graces.”
Elaborating further he said “A husband therefore in ‘making a sincere gift of self’ to his wife, makes visible the invisible love of God to his wife, while the wife, in doing so, reveals the beauty of God’s love to her husband, thus forming a new civilisation or culture of love each time it happens.”
Going on to the second point which he called “Motivation of Giving,” the prelate suggested that we need to examine the motivation behind our giving of self.
“Unless your giving of self is pure and sincere, that giving might sometimes hurt you in return,” cautioned Archbishop Wong.
He proposed that one of the ways in examining the motivation behind the giving of self, to see if it is driven by love, is to sit down and talk about it, “Let the negative feelings surface, face them and grow through them (by accepting or owning).”
His final point of reflection was based on St Pope John Paul II’s document Theology of the Body in which the pontiff speaks about the “Original Unity.”
He noted that according to St Pope John Paul II, the concept of the ‘original unity’ is: “Through marriage, when a man and a woman become ‘one flesh,’ there is no longer the question of giving or receiving; it is simply living out and sharing the love that binds them together.”
“A sincere gift of self to one another is indeed a call to live out the ‘original unity’ that God plans for humankind…the art of giving and receiving, if done with the love of God, will help us to live out the unity designed by God for humankind,” said the prelate.
With good humour, the prelate closed his reflection “If what I say is bothering you, it is a good sign! Hopefully it will give you extra food for thought. But I hope your appetite tonight is not being diminished by what I have said, or we’ll have lots of leftovers!”
He ended with a prayer that each couple would be a God-given gift to one another.
Meanwhile, in his brief welcome to the evening’s guests and members, presiding elder of LJCCC Anthony Lim strove to drive home the vital message that the future of the children depends on the kind of foundation their parents build.
In qualifying his statement, Lim related that in the numerous young people’s camps where he had the privilege to encounter scores of kids through counselling, he has come to know of their common struggle especially when they are caught up in their parents’ broken relationships.
The evening’s programme also included a frank sharing of their married and family life by Bernard and Christine Liew, and a 20-minute video clip featuring brief sharings of several couples, all of whom are members of the community. – CS