Creation Justice: Freedom
To: Priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters,
All lay faithful
- Sacred Heart Cathedral, Sibu
- St.Teresa’s Church, Sibu
- St.Mary’s of the Divine Mercy Church, Sibu
- St.Anthony’s Church, Sarikei
- St.Francis Xavier’s Church, Kanowit
- St.Alphonsus’ Church, Julau
- Sts. Peter and Paul’s Church, Mukah
- St.Bernard’s Church, Dalat
- St.Charles’ Church, Selangau
- Church of Christ the King, Bintangor
- Church of Mary Immaculate Conception, Kapit
- St.Herbert’s Church, Song
Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ,
A decade of Creation Justice for the Diocese of Sibu from 2017 to 2026: Freedom
Praise Be To God! We welcome 2019 with an ever grateful and thankful heart for all the wonderful blessings which we have received and pray for God’s continuous blessings upon all of us.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our theme for this year namely, Creation Justice: Freedom – In hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God (cf. Romans 8:21).
The Gospel offers us these three values of Justice, Love and Freedom. That’s why our Diocese of Sibu has embarked on a Decade of Creation Justice in 2017 with Creation Justice: Evangelization In Union With Creation (Ego-Centered to Eco-Christ Centered) stressing on Justice for the whole of Creation for example, the air, water, plants, animals, etc. As a matter of fact, all that God has created has a right to live because God has given them life. We want justice not only in our home or workplace or society but for the whole of Creation.
However, without love then we would not be able to render justice. That is why last year our theme is Creation Justice: Let’s Begin from Home in the Joy of Love whereby we were all called to begin from our own family. Then only can we reach out to the bigger family in the church, our society and Creation at large. Once we have love or fraternal charity then only will we be able to give them the justice that they deserve.
Besides justice and love, we also must have freedom, that is, the freedom to be a child of God. For the truth will set us free. Some of us are suffering from identity crisis in that we want to be somebody else or the one whom we idolized. We forget that we are created by God to be unique for there is no another person like us in the whole wide world. Furthermore, freedom does not mean we can do what we want but that we are not enslaved by the worldly things and have a choice to say ‘Yes” or “No”. We must first of all be “set free from” otherwise we are not able to be “set free to”… If we are not set free from self-centredness, darkness, evil or sin then we will not be able to be set free to love and do God’s Will. We will be controlled by our self-image, seeking economic gain, development or material things.
Hence, to dwell in that spirit and the gift of freedom, this year we are to adopt Pope Francis’ latest Apostolic Exhortation “Rejoice and Be Glad: Call to Holiness” whereby all are encouraged to seek holiness through the practice of the 8 Beatitudes. We recall Christ’s words “Blessed are the poor in Spirit…. the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these (cf. Matthew 5:3; 19:14). Who are they? The poor, the marginalized, the homeless, the unemployed, the lonely, the old and infirmed, the neglected and abused children, widows and orphans but more so, all those who are deprived of love and mercy. Needless to say, today Mother Earth especially suffers from the indifference and greed caused by human beings.
As such, this is a Wake-Up Call for all of us. We are called to be like God in His image and likeness as we have been especially set apart by God. Unless we possess the true freedom, then we cannot be set apart. Indeed, we need to strive for holiness. Let us journey together to seek Freedom in Holiness: by walking humbly with the Lord through acting justly and loving tenderly all those around us and the whole Creation (cf. Mic 6:8).
Once again, I thank all of you for your invaluable services and willingness to journey with me as your Shepherd. I sincerely believe that as One Family of God we can work to make our Diocese a more united and vibrant one, so that we may live together in the manner which God originally intended for us as beloved children of God.
1st January, 2019
Your Humble Servant
Bishop Joseph Hii Teck Kwong
Diocese of Sibu
‘Ecclesia Christi Sponsa’