Archbishop John Wong of Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu

By Catholic Sabah

Nov 24 2020

KK prelate Archbishop John Wong has released the 2020 Advent Message in these COVID-19 days, urging the faithful to “give everything we have, like Mary and Joseph, to prepare for the birth of Christ in our hearts by trusting and surrendering all to the will of God”.

“No one would have anticipated this year to be what it was” underscores the prelate in recalling “how our lives are challenged, and how our faith is pushed to the edge of the brink” by the dramatic arrival of the coronavirus since March this year.

As one staggers from the loss of a loved one, to the fear of contracting the illness, and to face imminent job losses resulting in financial difficulties, one risks losing the sense of purpose in life and comes face to face with constant fears and uncertainties. One might even question “Where is God? Does He not care for us?”

As the Catholic calendar ushers in the First Sunday of Advent on Nov 29, the prelate, like a true shepherd, guides his flock to prepare and anticipate Christmas in the midst of the COVID-19 turmoil.

Pointing to Mary and Joseph, Archbishop Wong draws attention to two of the Church’s greatest saints to help the faithful to learn to “see with the eyes of faith and to fix our gaze on Christ” during these difficult times that we go through.

He adds, the Lord often raises up saints during the hardest and most challenging times. If we learn to see with the eyes of faith and strive for holiness more than ever; if we continue to cultivate a life of prayer which will help us fix our gaze on Christ through these times, we would have the hope that God may raise us up “to be the saints of today”.

At the Annunciation, Mary responded to the angel Gabriel “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word..” (Luke 1:38), knowing the consequences and risks that would transpire. Still, the prelate notes, one of the first things she did after Christ was conceived in her womb, was to share His joy when she visited her cousin Elizabeth. No uncertainty or fear can take away the joy of Christ for one who trusts in God.

The prelate continues, as for Joseph, after knowing Mary had been chosen by God to conceive the Most Holy One, he felt unworthy to have Mary, a Perfect and Holy vessel of God. But after the angel appeared to him in a dream and affirmed him that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, Joseph humbly accepted the will of God and gave himself wholly to the plan of God to be the earthly father of His Son.

Preparing for the birth of the Saviour was nothing of the ordinary. The Archbishop highlights that both Mary and Joseph, in their humility and simplicity, were very much like us. They faced many challenges and did not have everything figured out by themselves. But they trusted, gave everything they had, and surrendered to the will of God every step of the way.

Though they encountered many obstacles and closed doors in their journey, it all finally led them to a place they probably least expected, the humblest place – a manger. There, Christ was born. God’s plan was revealed to Mary and Joseph as they surrendered and placed their total trust in God, the Archbishop marvels.

Looking at the challenges, adversities, and hardships we face in the world today, the prelate acknowledges that there is no way we can face it all with our own strength. But thankfully, we are not alone!

He assures that Christ has urged us in His Word to take heart, for He has overcome the world. (Jn 16:33). Reminding that Scripture promises that wisdom is readily found and seen for the one who seeks (Wisdom 6:12), he suggests that “we need wisdom to see things as they are, to see things as God sees them, so as to live with faith”.

This Advent, may we like Mary and Joseph, open our hearts to allow God to take us on a journey towards Christmas. Through the challenges, difficulties, and uncertainties, the certainty of Who God is, remains the same. He is Love. He is Emmanuel, close to us, through it all. May our longing for Christ increase more and more as we set to prepare for His birth. (See below for full text of message)

Full text 2020 Advent Message 

Pesan Adven 2020 oleh Uskup Agung John Wong: Beri semua yang kita miliki, seperti Maria dan Yusuf