Typically, Chinese New Years are supposed to be "auspicious" moments when we speak in hyperbolic positives on anything to do with fortune, wealth, health and happiness. But this year, the Chinese New Year also happens to fall during the liturgical season of Lent. This means that there should be at least a moderate toning down of the extent of the happy celebration (of course, it doesn't in itself mean that Lent is suppose to be sad or mournful). So perhaps it's all right for me to not sound excessively happy or exaggeratedly hopeful as I reflect on 2014 and 2015.
The past year has been a very challenging year for me, as I was faced with a moral situation right from the beginning of the year and had to decide if I wanted to take the right course of action or stand down when it was time to be firm on an issue of integrity. As a result, the year started off horribly, and it became even worse when I chose to make what I felt to be a right decision given a critical situation.
There were some important lessons that I learned from this experience. Firstly, I learned that we must never underestimate evil and the extent of dishonesty and immorality in this world. When we come across something that falls short of the dictates of our conscience, it is important that we must summon every ounce of courage within ourselves to decidely sever ourselves from evil associations even if it threatens to come back and bite us. This may mean our getting harmed, even killed, in the process, but we cannot put a price to righteousness.
Secondly, we must never assume that "righteous" people around us will defend us when we are in trouble. More likely than not, even people whom we look up to for their sense of morality would distance themselves from us in a spirit of self-preservation when our reputation is threatened. The journey towards the cross is often one that we must walk alone, or at best, with only one or two others who are willing to die with us. The others may never (want to) find out the exact truth; they just want to stay out of trouble.
Thirdly, there is always a resurrection after the death when we make the journey with a clear conscience. Even if some mistakes have been made in good conscience along the way, God has a way of redeeming and defending us. Perhaps His aid does not come in a very visible way, but He does turn up at the most unexpected moments. In His own way, He restores and vindicates us.
The year that began so painfully ended beautifully because there was a resurrection. It ended in a way that I never expected it to. At the same time, it was important that I learn certain life lessons through this irreplacable experience. I realise that when God allows us to have people in our lives who bring us pain and suffering, it is never accidental or wasted; something valuable always comes from the depth of such experiences.
The whole of last year was a Lenten journey. I see the start of this Chinese New Year in tandem with the new cycle of Lent as the culmination of the year-long Lenten journey I've been through. This Easter, I have been tasked to chant the Exsultet during the Easter Vigil at the cathedral of my diocese. I'm pretty certain that this Easter Proclamation will have a magnitude of meaning for me like never before.
With courage and, hopefully, faith, I await the onset of the year that is 2015 (which I already find myself in). This may be a year that requires more courage and tenacity to cling on to God. Those who are studied in politics and economics foresee a trying year for everyone around me; perhaps the courage I have attained from the previous year is to be offered to those whom I meet this year.