Christmas Message from the Bishop for the year 2020
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We have experienced a very special year. The world is still responding to the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought us. In addition, wars and struggles among nations and races, the use of “religion” as a disguise to create conflicts, dissatisfaction in many sectors of societies, cases of suicide and self-harm amongst young people, continue to spread. Yet still, we quietly come to Christmas, a universal celebration full of warmth, peace, and joy. It is such a strong contrast. Let us, then, have hope, and turn our attention to the Mangers we see around us, built to welcome our Saviour, Jesus Christ. “Truly great must be the value of human life if the Son of God has taken it up and made it the instrument of the salvation of all humanity!” (1)
God’s wisdom is a marvellous mystery. We may not understand why we are threatened by these difficult situations, making us doubt that life itself is a gift, and making our life dark and gloomy. However, through His birth, suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ redeems the value of life, and elevates life to an unprecedented level, which makes us look forward to the grace of eternal life. (2)
The birth of our Saviour tells us that human life itself is a gift from God, and the dignity of human life stems from God’s love. In order to promote and remind us of the value of life and to protect the dignity of life, the Diocesan Commission for Life will hold a series of activities in the coming year to care for people’s needs at different stages of life:
“Life Protection Week” for people to experience the mystery of life from the Creator, and make us more aware of the dignity of the human person;
Workshop on the instruction Dignitas Personae, through discussion and reflection of life on relevant ethical issues of current affairs;
Course on the Theology of the Body to discover how the human body reflects God’s plan for mankind, as well as series of lectures on sex education;
In order to care for the physical and mental needs of the disabled people, we continue to host meals with them and listen to their sharing of experiences and feelings;
Workshops for those who have had miscarriages, paying particular attention to spiritual companionship for them;
Hosting mental health emergency workshops focusing on mental health problems caused by the epidemic;
Lectures on caring for the elderly and their families and seeking to develop an understanding of hospice care in order to be able to face death with a positive attitude and trust in God.
Life is a responsibility entrusted to mankind by God. From the beginning to the end, life is both sacred and inviolable: Life belongs to the Lord, and under His special protection, people should not arbitrarily spoil, abandon or dispose of their own or others’ lives. On the contrary, people should actively promote life and cultivate attitudes and behaviours that serve life. It is by this positive outlook that we can “build a new culture of human life.” We should shoulder this mission of promoting human life and seek to achieve it through charitable services because it is charity that guides us to “show concern for all lives and for everyone's life.” (3)
When the angel appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem, he announced, “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Let all of us take part more in the above-mentioned activities, to deepen our strong sense of the culture of life, and spread the great news of life in our families, work, and social life.
I invite you to send a cry of trust to Mary, the “Mother of Life” in the Manger. While contemplating the struggle mentioned in the Apocalypse between the woman who is about to give birth and the dragon who casts a net to devour the child brought forth, we must recognize that throughout the ages, “Life is always at the centre of a great struggle.” However, in the interrelationship between Mary’s motherhood of Christ and her motherhood for all men and women, the Church has found a source of great hope. On the arduous journey of history, Mary is the “comforting word of life” (4).
I have just learned that Pope Francis has declared the Year of Saint Joseph on 8 December of the Feast of Immaculate Conception. The purpose of this special Year is to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to seek his help, and to imitate his virtue and fervour. With faith and filial piety, we entrust the mission of life to Mary and Joseph, whom we contemplate in the Manger.
+Most Reverend Bishop Stephen Lee
Catholic Diocese of Macau