It is my custom to write a reflection to end each year before stepping into the new year ahead. But during the end of 2014, I was on a brief vacation in a Southeast Asian country, and it was already past the threshold of the new year by the time I returned. As a result, I missed the reflection all together. But it's now the Chinese New Year (thank God for the ridiculousness of multiple new years within a year!), so I'm seizing a second chance to make up for this neglect.
I get it. He happens to be a Cardinal who sharply and unapologetically tries to stay as close as possible to what many deem to be "manmade" traditions of the Church, a crony of the previous pope (who, incidentally, a particular bishop -- not my own bishop -- told me in my face should be shot dead because he thought I too was a militant crony of the previous pope), an archaic never-evolving stiff-necked conservative who gives the Catholic Church a bad name. So his removal from the Apostolic Signatura and subsequent transfer to the Order of Malta is interpreted as a sign of the present reigning Monarch of the Church not being in favour of such conservatism.
On 7 November 2014, an opinion article was published in the Malay Mail Online. The article entitled "Why I Left the Faith" was submitted by Miss Boo Su-Lyn. Read it here.
Below is my reply to the said article.
It is strange how as human beings, we often pander to phenomenalism by looking for sensational experiences in extraordinary situations. This following video is a stark reminder of how we miss out on the authentic beauty of everyday life when we are so fixated on the extraordinary.
Nineteenth Ordinary Sunday Year A
It doesn't take much to set people into a panic mode these days. As modernisation creeps in and people become increasingly "in control" of their own fates because of scientific advancement, ironically, the more anxious people seem to get about their safety, their security and the certainty of their survival. It is strange, the kind of fear that modern life begets.
Some recent globally publicised occurrences have now caused a serious panic and anxiety to set in, if not anywhere else, in our part of the world. This has been brought about by the disappearance of the MH370 aircraft and most recently the shooting of the MH17 aircraft. And as if that was insufficient, the onslaught of the Ebola virus began, which is now a situation classified as a "global emergency" by the World Health Organisation. These catastrophes have caused a good number of Malaysians to refrain from traveling on long-distance hauls for fear of their own lives. Put simply, people are now afraid to die either of a plane crash, a plane being shot down or a viral attack. I have personally encountered a good number of people who have withdrawn abruptly from their travel plans in their next few months.
I remember many years ago, in 2002 when I graduated from seminary, the graduating students of my cohort chose the theme "A New Song" as the theme for our graduation. This theme was certainly not an indication that we meant to forget the old phase of our life in seminary, but that a new phase of our lives and ministry was now presenting itself before us as a continuation of the "old song" that we had sung until then. The "new song" we were now going to sing, i.e. the new phase of our lives, was going to entail new and exciting challenges for us, and the "old song" we had sung prior to that was what had prepared us for the day of this "new song". Since that day, I had always been aware that change and dynamism were intrinsic to the life of ministry.
Second Ordinary Sunday Year A
The economists tell us that times are going to get harder and harder for us here in Malaysia. But amidst inflating prices, competition is only going to be more rife than ever with more people fighting to get a piece of the ever-shrinking pie. So the only people who would ultimately survive this boiling economic climate are the fittest of the lot.
This is precisely why society speaks a lot of the survival of the fittest. Those who are not tough enough eventually show themselves to be losers. We are nurtured to exalt mottos like "Born to win" and "We are the champions". Nobody likes the idea of being only second best. Strive to always be the best because nobody dares to mess with the best. If you fail to be the best, you will gain no respect.
One might say that humility ceases to be a virtue when survival is an issue. Of utmost importance is success, and only when one is successful that the virtue of humility can be cultivated. In success, you show yourself to be humble only to be even more respected.
It's true, this year is going to be a challenging year for many of us, unless one is so filthy rich that multiple price increases have no felt impact on the state of his infinite wealth. But for the rest of us, life is going to be harder than ever.
As Malaysians, our disposable income and purchasing power had just dropped tremendously when the clock struck 12 last night. Beginning today, we will feel the effect when receiving our electricity bills, buying stationery for our children, buying foodstuff at the market, sending our children to school on the bus, paying the exorbitant toll fee when travelling on the highway, and a good many more activities we usually take for granted.