“Those who obey God will prosper, while those who rebel die”
AS we welcome the Lunar New Year of Ox, I would like to wish everyone a year filled with peace and good health. I believe that it is our hope that this year, our lives may be filled with such graces. Indeed, health and peace is the greatest wealth we could ask for, as neither gold nor silver can be exchanged for them.
It is the custom of the Chinese to greet each other with good wishes as we begin the New Year, in the hope that these wishes will help us prevent any adversities in the days to come.
As the Chinese idiom goes “Men do not prosper all the time, and flowers do not bloom forever”. However, in our lives, good wishes do not block out all adversities. Let us not live in denial but to stand tall and be grounded as we courageously face and accept all that are to come.
The news on the outbreak of the coronavirus in China circulated just before last Chinese New Year (2020), which then spread across the globe. We have not been spared from this tragedy locally. We have come to know the death of so many lives, as well as the sorrows of the families of the deceased. It is indeed a hard fact to accept for many. The pandemic has affected the economy of the whole world and many people are helplessly affected and saddened by it.
War has always been the most horrific tragedy. But today, the coronavirus pandemic brings with it a greater fear. It does not take human lives using lethal weapons, but by an invisible virus. No matter how advanced medical science may be; so far neither the sharpest weapon nor the most advanced science could eliminate it. With these developments, men thought that they have surpassed God, only to discover that the advancement of technology and communications have left us confused and unable to think clearly.
Hence, the pandemic must awaken us to the truth of the lowliness and frailty of human. As a meaningful Chinese saying goes “Those who obey God will prosper, while those who rebel die”.
God has always been a part in traditional Chinese customs, whether you have religious belief or otherwise. The Chinese tradition has always recognized that God is the greatest. All that we are and own are in the hands of God.
Today, we need to reflect on all our works that are against God. Whether it is between nations or between men, there are many things happening around the world that violate God and truth. Men have rebelled against the will of God that was set at the beginning of creation.
In and around the world, we witness the weak being oppressed, the destruction of our natural surroundings and its ecology, the causes of climate changes, and the killing of various animals leading to their extinction. God wants us to live in harmony with Creation, helping Him to care for and protect it, whilst calling us to love each other. Doing this then is an act of obedience to God. Hence, the wisdom of the Chinese sayings awakens in us to always rely on God.
At the beginning of this New Year, let us not only offer our thanksgiving to God, but to ask for forgiveness and to reconcile with God and Mother earth. Let us ask for the grace of serenity to adapt, obey and accept the things that we could not change.
Let us remember our frontline workers – the doctors, nurses, police officers and the various service personnel, for their dedication and sacrifices. Let us strictly abide with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to protect ourselves, the frontliners and all people.
With God’s Word, I wish you a blessed Lunar New Year of the Ox:
“The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Num ^:24-26)
+ Most Rev John Wong
Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu