From The Archbishop's Desk

Archbishop Simon Poh’s Christmas & New Year 2020 Message

Today, a Saviour has been born to us. He is Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:11)

Recently I was in Jerusalem on 29 November 2019 for the blessing of the “Sama Koih” plaque which is the Our Father prayer in the Bidayuh Bau dialect. The pilgrimage was a moment of grace to reflect on the events of the life of Jesus, especially on the land where our Lord Jesus, the Emmanuel was born, lived, walked, crucified and rose again. With the feast of the Epiphany on 5 January, we know that the three wise men came from the east to offer gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. I would like to reflect on this significance.

These three gifts summarise the purpose and identity of Jesus:

  • Frankincense is used to worship God – Jesus is Divine
  • Gold is tribute paid to King – Jesus is a King of our lives. May God’s Kingdom come
  • Myrrh is used for anointing at death – Jesus came to die. He gave his life as a ransom for our sins.

Jesus is divine, the Son of God and our Risen Lord. Jesus is our King, born to die – to set us free from sins and to offer us life.

The word “Emmanuel” means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). Our God who is Divine and from on high in the heavens, came down to live among us, walk among us and share our human joy and suffering. In Jesus, God lives with us on this land. We see the face of God in Jesus.

John 3:16 summarises it: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). Believe them in Jesus and have life, life in its abundance (John 10:10).

At Jesus’ birth, everyone and all people of good will are called to be one family – brothers and sisters to one another, called to harmony and peace on earth as people of good will! For Christmas this year, Pope Francis has asked every Catholic family to prepare a Christmas Nativity scene:

  • celebrate God’s closeness and rediscover that God is real, concrete and alive;
  • the baby Jesus with open arms tells us that God came to embrace us in our humanity;
  • Our God came to be with us, was born a man like us, and continues to accompany us in our lives.
  • God doesn’t change things with magic, but if we welcome Him into our hearts everything can change;
  • Let us open the door to our home: Jesus, come in!
  • When Jesus dwells in our lives, life is reborn, and if life is reborn, it really is Christmas!

I was also blessed by the children during the last two weekend visits to the Cathedral Parish and CWS rural parish Children’s Christmas parties, and the Share-Care project where parishes collected gifts from their Love Boxes to be distributed to the less fortunate. I was touched by the testimonies the sponsors conveyed to me:

  • Even with simple gifts of school bags and stationery, we can actually see the joy and happiness on the faces of these children.
  • It’s amazing there is so much laughter, created with only a budget of RM500 to be shared among 400 children.
  • Life can be so much simpler compared to our city materialistic lifestyle. So much fun despite not owning much and being grateful for simple gifts.

Upon reflection, this should really be the spirit of Christmas; not the new gadgets, dinners and merry making.

The REASON for Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus by sharing and caring.

Christmas is first and foremost accepting the GIFT of Jesus, the only Son of our Heavenly Father God.

God gives unconditionally, generously and totally at a very high cost. The price is the ultimate sacrifice of God’s Son on the Cross.

Our God comes to us humbly, in simplicity and poverty. He was born with no material wealth nor social security. But Jesus was welcomed into a loving, faithful, simple and poor family of Joseph and Mary and the poor shepherds and lowly animals.

So when a family has Jesus, they have everything. When we have Christ in the very heart of our family, we have all we need. Amen.

At Jesus’ birth, the angels announced: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to people of good will” (Luke 2:14). This invitation for peace is for all people of good will – from all walks of life, race or faith – to work together hand in hand for the common good of everyone. May open houses with various festivities be the place where people from all faith will come together to strengthen friendship and goodwill, building a society of harmony, mutual respect and acceptance for all humanity.

I wish all a very blessed Christmas filled with joy, love and peace. May 2020 be a year of blessing for everyone.

Most Rev Simon Poh
The Archbishop of Kuching