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Publish Date: 29 November 2019

Advent Message from the Archbishop

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the peace of the Lord be with you.

As we grow up, we often encounter things that we neither understand nor expect, just like the quote from the movie Forrest Gump (1994) “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”

At this time every year, many Christian children in foreign countries will hang up an Advent Calendar. These calendars have twenty-four sealed windows and, according to tradition, the child is only allowed to open one each day. Yet out of curiosity, children often cannot help but unseal other windows in advance, to take a peek at what is behind them. Each window hides a different illustration, for example, a star, a candle, a horse, or another toy. However, for every Advent Calendar, the last window always contains the same scene. That window that must only be opened on Christmas Eve always reveals the nativity scene, with the Baby Jesus in a manger along with his parents Joseph and Mary.

Our lives are somewhat like an Advent Calendar. Every time we open a window in our lives, we will find something surprising, for example, our marriage partner, a new job, a new family, a new child, or sickness, or the departure of a loved one. Every window in our lives will reveal a spark of light or darkness. Yet what does the last window contain? That would be something we long to know but also dread: death. Everybody longs to know what they will see after they step through the door of death into the darkness.

We Christians think about the matter of death differently. In the last window of the Advent Calendar, Christians see a spark of light in the darkness, and in this light, we see the “incarnation”. In the light from the birth of Jesus Christ, we see life, death and resurrection. This light indicates that God has bestowed upon us his “Way” that was Jesus Christ incarnate. St John the Baptist called God’s “way” the promised messiah, the proclaimer of heaven, and the window that reveals God.

Many who are unfamiliar with Christianity mistake our faith as a list of stipulations that stresses what is allowed and what is forbidden, but this is not the case. Christianity is not a dogmatic faith. Our faith requires us to “watch” and “be attentive”. In Christ we look to God with new eyes and watch his creation. We also care for one another. When spreading the gospel, we should learn from St John the Baptist, and urge people “to not look to me but look to God and listen to Jesus’ words, because he is the only one who could see into the heart of God, who calls God his father, because he is made of love.”

When an artist introduces his artwork, he will say to us “Let me tell you what my work looks like. This work has a different effect when light strikes it from different angles. It will even show you the truth which you cannot see right now.” Like the artist, when St John the Baptist saw Jesus of Nazareth, he said “Come and look closely at this person who comes to be baptized by me and you will see his glory.”

Our faith does the same thing. When we invite people to our faith, we say to them “When you come, you will see what life is and what death is in the light of Christ! You will no longer fear. In the light of Christ, we can see what God is like, what the world is like, and what humans are like, so that we can learn to love them, because Jesus Christ is a window that reveals not only who God is but also what it means to be a human.”

Advent not only helps us prepare our hearts to observe the mystery of God’s incarnation, it also reminds us to look to God in the light of Jesus Christ and guide others to know and live in his light. Through Jesus Christ, we can see the true form of God, his love, and his redemption, and in turn we can see the value and meaning of human existence.

I wish all brothers and sisters an Advent in which they could observe Our Lord and look forward our Savior’s return. May the hand of God give you guidance.

+ Paul Kwong


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