Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my brethren in faith throughout the Archdiocese of Singapore, today we celebrate this special occasion on Mass on the fourteenth day of February of this year, as the celebration of the Anniversary of that day when the mother church of this See, that is the direct heir of the See of Malacca and the progenitor of the Church in much of Asia and beyond, was consecrated and blessed more than a hundred years ago.
In the year of our Lord, 1897, then Bishop of Malacca, Bishop Edouard Gasnier, M.E.P., consecrated the Cathedral building, which had been built and completed just over half a century earlier in 1846. This great building and house of the Lord has been built as the heart and the beginning of the great missionary work in the small island of Singapore, which had just been founded by the British after hundreds of years of isolation and being a backwater and relatively forgotten island.
In this Cathedral, we have the proof of God’s continuing guidance to the works of His faithful servants in the Church, spreading His Good News to all the corners of the earth. The salvation of God is offered to all who wants to listen to His word, and all those who receive the word and believe, they are all saved. And the work of God continues even to this day, with many of His servants, all of us included, continuing to give praise to God and carry out His works daily amongst our brethren in this world.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, do you know why the Cathedral of this Archdiocese of Singapore was named the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd? That was because when it was first built, one of those who had great role in the establishment of that church was St. Laurent Imbert, a missionary priest who went on to become the Apostolic Vicar to Korea, supervising the missionary work in that fertile land where many people still lived in ignorance of the Lord.
St. Laurent Imbert faithfully carried out his mission, and despite the fierce and harsh opposition from the pagan Korean government, he did not fear and continued to do his best to minister to the people of God. And when the persecution by the government reached a new high, and the government offered the liberation of those they have counted for death, if the bishop was to surrender himself, St. Laurent Imbert voluntarily surrendered himself and was martyred for his faith.
In one of his last letters before his martyrdom, he explained the reason behind his decision, that is of the Good Shepherd, imitating what our Lord had done Himself. The Good Shepherd lay down His life for His sheep. And indeed our Lord and God had laid down His life for our sake, that all of us, His sheep may be freed from the certainty of death caused by our sinfulness.
In the memory of St. Laurent Imbert and our Lord’s own sacrifice as our Good Shepherd therefore we dedicate today’s celebration, just as this Cathedral was dedicated to the Lord over a hundred years ago. And what is the relevance of this celebration to all of us? That is because the readings today on the feast of dedication of a Cathedral also reminds us all that we are the Temple of God, the place where God Himself resides.
Many of us seem to forget that all of us who believe in the Lord and who keep faith in Him, having received His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist, have essentially the Lord Himself dwelling in us, in body and flesh, and in spirit and love. Thus, we have to remember always that we belong to God and He is in us. We must shun all forms of sin and wickedness and walk only in His path, as St. Laurent Imbert and all the other faithful saints and martyrs of God had.
May this joyous occasion and celebration be a time for us to reawaken the love and dedication we have for the Lord, and may all of us be able to shun evil and sin, and gain into ourselves the justification and grace which God had promised all those who are faithful to Him, our loving God and our Good Shepherd. God bless us all. Amen.