“Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15, Douay Rheims)
Christmas and New Year in Singapore this time round, brings with it much challenges...stalled MRT lines in dark tunnels, gallons of rainfall, less shoppers on Orchard Road, concrete roller coaster structures at Universal Studios, slower economics, higher jobless rate, a gloomy year ahead...
Many are aware that in Singapore these days, the current priorities in the lives of the majority still consists of the 5 Cs; Cash, Credit Card, Car, Condominium and Country Club Membership. There is a minor group of a certain quarter, who believes that these 5 Cs should be redefined into good Career, living in Comfort surrounded by Children, be more Considerate and Charitable. Those whom are more spiritual may even deem their 5 Cs to be, Compassion, Charity, Conscience, Contentment and Celebration.
Across the Causeway, in neighboring Malaysia, the 5 Cs (or even more) seems even worse and obvious from the daily media obsessive reporting...Corruption, Conspiracies, Cronyism, Controlled journalism, Court injustice, Changing history, Clowns in government...it goes on and on. All seems doom and gloom for the good citizens of this once rich, peaceful and cosmopolitan country.
Whilst Singapore is still way ahead in the desperate pursuit of development to combat the dulling economy, it’s neighboring peninsular has not tire itself of what the general citizens deem as sex scandals, corruption, Christian and religious persecution, injustice, rigged elections, abuse of law, etc. With the impending General Elections, the citizens must send the signal of a firm and clear "NO" to these and a "YES" to the power of the rakyat (people)!
Yes, the priorities we hold dear in our lives determine the quality of our life...our journey through life. The priorities the leaders hold dear determines the future of a nation. The wise-men of the Epiphany were rich, yet they are aware of their absolute poverty; they were wise but yet recognize more the infinite wisdom of God.
Even in families, we see extreme obsession, on the part of either spouse, with the empty pursuit of wealth, materialism, career, so much so....it costs the families their marriage, their solidarity for one another, their happiness. Arguments however petty, within families generally originate from these aimless and blind pursuits. At the end of the day...when we take our final breath...only then do we realize (hopefully) that all these simply does not really matter at all...our life...our journey has been totally wasted on such temporary pursuits! The quiet night in the Bethlehem where we were born, continue to be drowned by the noise around us.
Often, we hear this saying...why worry about tomorrow...simply live in the present moment. This seems to be easier said than done when the attitude of most people today is one that always wants to win...at any cost! Any other priorities that are not society-driven would likely make one feel like at outcast.
Ah, the paradox of being a disciple of Jesus Christ...to be in the world, yet, not of this world. To be poor, yet become rich. To be empty, but at the same time, filled to the brim. To become detached, yet to be fully attached. To lose everything, yet to gain absolutely everything. To recognize that we are one humanity...a single family built on the values of justice, equality and solidarity...a soul with meaning and direction...journeying back home to our one Source...our Creator...Our Father in Heaven...our eternal destiny.
St Augustine has shared with us that, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”
As I reflect deeply of this, I understand that it cannot mean that we should not be fond of the world...that we are not to give ourselves solely to the building of the world. We have a primary obligation, as disciples, to bring the love of Jesus Christ into the world...love all things in an “ordered” way...to see the world through the eyes of Christ. Disciples do not conform to the values of the world but rather, we help transform the world by radiating forth the light of Christ to all the darkness we encounter along life’s journey. Disciples love the world through Him, with Him and in Him...our Lord Jesus Christ.
St Augustine also said that, “Unless you believe, you will not understand.” This Saint goes on to say that, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” Even more profound in wisdom, St Augustine continues to enlighten us today through his writings to, “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”
As we enter the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord this week, the climax of the season of Advent and Christmas, let us open our hearts to realize this awesome insight and become aware to comprehend the meaning of the coming of Jesus Christ...the Son of God into the world.
What meaning will you allow for this Epiphany to have for you this time?