(Special) Tuesday, 1 February 2022 : Lunar New Year Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today for all those of us who are celebrating the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year to the Chinese people who celebrate it every year. This day marks the celebration of the beginning of the end of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, as it was noted as the Spring Festival due to the period of time being the time when the temperatures of the ground and the environment begin to increase again after it has declined over the past few weeks and months.

It is a time of gathering of families and great celebrations, when large extended families came back together to their ancestral places and hometowns, bearing the tidings and stories of what had happened throughout the previous year. It is a time when the family reunites and shares in each others’ love and as a reminder of the important bonds and relationships between us, among the members of our close and extended family members both. It is a time for thanksgiving, giving thanks for all the wonders and blessings that we have received.

Yet, if we realise, the tone of the Lunar New Year celebrations in the recent years have increasingly become more and more materialistic and excessive in nature, focusing a lot on prosperity and wealth, fortunes and worldly pleasures. And it did not help that many companies and organisations also took part in propagating this culture of excess and materialistic focus in the Lunar New Year celebrations. Ultimately, all these were meant to drive up profits in the weeks leading up to the festivities, and it is often corporate and marketing greed that gained from making use of our desires and wants.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Numbers of the words of the Lord speaking to Moses regarding the blessing that Aaron and all the priests God has appointed to be the priests over all the Israelites ought to give to the people, a blessing that came from the Lord and reminded all the people that all grace and blessings came from the Lord alone. The Lord’s blessings and kindness have always been extended to all His people, as He continued to watch over us and provided for us, even when we constantly disobeyed and disregarded Him all the time.

The Lord’s blessings have always been extended to us and many of us have been fortunate to receive more blessings than others. Yet, there are those among us who worry unnecessarily because we worry about what we shall have, what we are to enjoy in life, as mentioned in the Gospel passage today. The Lord wants to remind us that it is foolish and futile for us to worry about all these things, as in the end, if we walk in the right path and trust in the Lord, then all these worries are really unnecessary and irrational for of us to do.

St. James in his Epistle which is our second reading today also echoed the same sentiment, as he spoke of the folly of putting one’s trust in their plans and preparations, how people often planned well ahead and worry about what will come in the future, and often overthinking things and being too paranoid of what we may lose out on. It is therefore timely and apt that we heard these readings from the Scriptures today, which served as a reminder for us all not to give in to the excesses of worldly temptations and desires as we celebrate the great festivities of the Lunar New Year.

We are reminded that as we rejoice today this Lunar New Year, we must not lose sight of what the celebrations of the Lunar New Year is all about. It is not about prosperity and fortune, but rather about love and family. It is not about the food and feasts, but rather about the time spent with each other and the quality interactions we have with our loved ones. The Lunar New Year should be the opportunity for us to remember the love which each and every one of us ought to have for those who are precious and close to us, a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, and a time for seeking true happiness.

How do we do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by seeking the Lord and focusing our lives and attention on the Lord and remembering all that He had taught us, in loving Him and one another, in being virtuous and just in all the things we do. Let us all remember that even as we rejoice during this great occasion of the Lunar New Year, that there are those who are not as fortunate as us and who struggle even to make their ends meet each day to be able to celebrate at all. And let us not forget that we are still currently suffering the effects from the extended pandemic and many people out there are still enduring difficulties in various aspects.

Let us therefore share our blessings and instead of seeking personal prosperity and selfish desires this New Year, we instead be ever more generous in giving, both of ourselves and our extra blessings, especially to those who are not as fortunate as we are. For it is in giving and sharing that we will find true happiness, and God’s love, favour and joy will be upon us too, rather than us hoarding all the glory and happiness for ourselves. Let us give thanks to the Lord for all His kindness and blessings as well. May God be with us all, our families and loved ones and bless our year ahead. Amen.

(Special) Tuesday, 1 February 2022 : Lunar New Year Mass (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 6 : 31-34

At that time, the Lord said to His disciples, “Do not worry, and say : What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? or : What shall we wear? The pagans busy themselves with such things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”

“Set your heart, first, on the kingdom and righteousness of God; and all these things will also be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

(Special) Tuesday, 1 February 2022 : Lunar New Year Mass (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

James 4 : 13-15

Listen now, you who speak like this, “Today or tomorrow we will go off to this city and spend a year there; we will do business and make money.”

You have no idea what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? No more than a mist, which appears for a moment and then disappears. Instead of this, you should say, “God willing, we will live and do this or that.”

(Special) Tuesday, 1 February 2022 : Lunar New Year Mass (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 89 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 12-14, 16-17

YHVH, You have been our refuge through all generations. Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night.

You sow them in their time, at dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o YHVH? Have mercy on Your servant. Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days.

Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children. May the sweetness of YHVH be upon us; may He prosper the work of our hands.

(Special) Tuesday, 1 February 2022 : Lunar New Year Mass (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Numbers 6 : 22-27

Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them : This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say : May YHVH bless you and keep you! May YHVH let His face shine on you, and be gracious to you! May YHVH look kindly on you, and give you His peace!”

“In that way they put My Name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”

(Special) Friday, 31 January 2014 : Chinese New Year Day Mass (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

James 4 : 13-15

Listen now, you who speak like this, “Today or tomorrow we will go off to this city and spend a year there; we will do business and make money.” You have no idea what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? No more than a mist which appears for a moment and then disappears.

Instead of this, you should say, “God willing, we will live and do this or that.”

(Special) Friday, 31 January 2014 : Chinese New Year Day Mass (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 90 : 1-17

Lord, You have been our refuge through all generations. Before the mountains were formed, before You made the earth and the world, from eternity to eternity – You are God.

You turn humans back to dust, saying, “Return, o mortals!” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has passed, or like a watch in the night. You sow them in their time, at dawn they peep out. In the morning they blossom, but the flower fades and withers in the evening.

Your fury consumes us like fire, and we are helpless before Your anger. Our evils lie before You, who scrutinize our hidden sins. Our days pass away in Your wrath; our years are gone in no time. Seventy years to our life or eighty if we are strong, yet most of them are sorrow and trouble; speeding by, they sweep us along.

Who knows the extent of Your anger? Who has seen the end of Your wrath? So make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart. How long will You be angry, o Lord? Have mercy on Your servant.

Fill us at daybreak with Your goodness, that we may be glad all our days. Make joy endure as the misery did, and the years in which we were afflicted. Let Your work be seen by Your servants and Your glorious power by their children. May the sweetness of the Lord be upon us; may He prosper the work of our hands.

(Special) Friday, 31 January 2014 : Chinese New Year Day Mass (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Numbers 6 : 22-27

Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them : This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say :

‘May YHVH bless you and keep you! May YHVH let His face shine on you and be gracious to you! May YHVH look kindly on you, and give you His peace!’

In that way shall they put my Name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”

Sunday, 10 February 2013 : 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time and Chinese New Year (Scripture Reflection)

We have seen today, that the Lord is everything for us, and He loves, and cares for us deeply. There is no other being with greater love. He provided for us in our daily lives, He guided us, taught us, and blessed us with abundance. That we have enough but not excessive, so that we may live comfortably, but not be ensnared by the lures of money and therefore greed.

As today, Chinese around the world celebrate Chinese New Year, the most important day in the whole Chinese calendar year, let us reflect on the readings today, with regards on the matter of blessing and prosperity, on which Chinese New Year frequently base itself on. On Chinese New Year, we Chinese visit one another in the family and relatives, and bring one another the spirit of joy and love. The day is a celebration of life, and of love, through the family blessed by God with ample goods and graces. This is what we should remember on this festive Chinese New Year day, and not instead, the culture of materialism, that increasingly become more and more common amongst Chinese, and people around the world in general.

Chinese New Year has often been associated with wealth, prosperity, money, auspiciousness, and lavishness, with lavish reunion dinners, lavish new clothings, and concerns about etiquette while visiting one another. In today’s modern world, intense commercialisation and materialism has led to Chinese New Year celebrations to become increasingly elaborate. This also applies to other types of celebrations around the world, which are becoming increasingly commercialised and with focus placed much on the glamour and glitz instead of the true meaning of the celebrations themselves.

Jesus reminded us today, that God as our Father has given us everything that we need, and that He as the Ultimate Judge of all life too, has the life of all creation known and measured, without our knowledge of these. Indeed, no matter how much wealth we accumulate in this life on earth, how many houses, cars, or even private jets we have, ultimately, when we die, we will not bring these with us. What we instead bring with us is just ourselves, our soul. Will you rather choose to be wealthy in this world and then judged unworthy by the Lord in the end? To suffer separation from Him all eternity, out of which there is no hope? Or would you rather to be not so wealthy in this world, but build up spiritual wealth instead, and be richly rewarded by God for your meaningful life filled with actions out of love for others and God?

Do not however, be mistaken. God does not hate or condemn wealth and money, and indeed, naturally, we need those to support ourselves, our own families, and to live rather comfortably. However, the main point is, not to be mastered by these instead of us mastering them. We must take charge of our wealth, and whenever we can, try to share some with the less fortunate.

Unfortunately, in our present day world, as it had happened in the past as well, many people guard their treasures with greed and jealousy, without even thinking of others in need. Many concern themselves everyday on the pursuit of gathering more wealth, buying more luxury goods, possessing more cars and other amenities, until to the point that they are actually mastered and enslaved by wealth, instead of the other way around.

Wealth is not everything indeed, and although it is essential, we Christians should heed the message in the readings today, to know how to feel ‘enough’, to know the ‘limit’ of our wishes, and to know how to be satisfied. We should look at others around us, when we are engrossed in our pursuit of wealth and prosperity, so excessive that we neglect even to look around. There are many others amongst us who are not so fortunate, and these people are already very thankful when they even have enough to eat for the day, and there are even those who do not have enough.

One may then ask, isn’t the Lord saying that He provides enough for all of us everyday? Then why are there these people who beg? Why are there people who hunger? Why then there are people who still die of neglect and poverty? This is because, the Lord does His work, through us, through His children, and Jesus taught us in the Scripture to give thanks to God for what we receive, and to share them with our fellow brothers and sisters in God.

It is we who ought to open our ‘granaries’ of food and ‘banks’ of wealth to share some of excesses we have, which we do not need, with those who cannot afford them. Remember, the Lord does not disdain or hate wealth, it is just that He wants all of us to live happily in love, sharing our joy together, sharing our sorrow together, in a community based in the faith in the Lord, who gives enough to all everyday, without the need to worry.

The poor no longer will need to worry about what they will survive on tomorrow, and whether their children will be taken care of properly, and the rich will also no longer need to worry about what investment to make tomorrow, where to profit on tomorrow, and what car or what property to buy tomorrow. Do as you always do, and work as you have always worked, but do not make yourselves slaves to your career and to whatever you are doing. Rather, always remember the Lord in all things that we do, and make Him the centre of our lives. We will realise that once we put God into all things that we do, we will no longer desire more and more, and will be satisfied with whatever blessings and generous gifts God has given us.

Let us therefore, in this Chinese New Year celebration, renew the commitment to love one another, and not just within one’s family, but also to others beyond that, for we are all one family in Christ. While we party, drink, and eat much food, remember always in our prayers those who are less fortunate. Whatever excesses we have in our celebration, let us pass them to them, that they too will be able to joyfully participate in the celebration. Let us be inclusive as the Lord wants us to be, and not be greedy and exclusive.

All said, as the other readings show us, we still have our missions to fulfill, namely to reach out to others who have yet to listen to the Word of God and the Good News, and that is why Christ told His disciples on the boat to go out and put the net out to the deep. So far, we have caught the ‘fish’ on the surface and those who are near, but there are many who are located deeper and farther away from the love of God, who are yet caught by us.

Christ made Simon the fisherman into Peter the fisher of man, and so did He make the other Apostles fishers of men. This mission, reiterated by Christ after His resurrection, to go out to all the nations and deliver to them the Good News of the Lord, and baptise them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, is still true today, and all of us Christians, should also reach out further and deeper, to those amongst us, who are yet to receive the grace of the Word of God.

Do not worry that we cannot do this mission as Christ asked us to. Remember that God provides everything for us, and He will provide all that we need to do our mission. We can begin simply with our own lives, to live a life of love and faith to God, such that we become such a shining beacon of goodness, that others will come to us, and through us, God will make His wonderful work, and the Word of God will be brought to all mankind, even through just one faithful and dedicated disciple of the Lord.

Let us be fishers of men, just like the Apostles, beginning from ourselves, and even our own families. I myself came from a non-Christian family background, and although my mother is a Catholic, but my father is not, and he was a very staunch follower of his own beliefs. It is not easy to bring the Word of God, the Good News to everyone, but we can begin indeed in showing that God is Love, and through His Spirit, that our own actions will be filled with love and all, even those who do not yet believe in God, will believe in Him, through us, and our actions.

May God bless all of us on this wonderful day, and bless all the Chinese people throughout the world celebrating this magnificent Chinese New Year, and remind us always that on top of the parties and the celebrations that we have, we also have a mission to do, that is to share the Good News to all, and indeed, to share the joy, happiness, and blessings that we receive, particularly on this festive moment, with those who have little or none. God bless us all, and bless His holy Church! Amen.