2019 National Day-Malaysia Day Message Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we come together to celebrate 62 years of Merdeka and the 56th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia, we pause to reflect upon the many blessings that God has showered upon us as individuals, Catholics and as a nation. We thank God for the development, opportunities, peace and harmony that we have always enjoyed, despite the many challenges. We thank God for our beautiful country – Negaraku, Tanah tumpahnya darahku.

The two historical celebrations are a constant reminder of our identity as Malaysians. We celebrate the achievements and aspirations of our men and women, our sons and daughters, as they continue to excel nationally and internationally. We celebrate and embrace our creativity and innovations, positive values, our families, communities and nation. Most importantly, we celebrate our diversity as a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country.

Notwithstanding these successes, we should also be cognizant of the ills especially those who are pitting one community against another and eroding the very fabric of our society. Religious belief should enrich a nation but sadly, it has often been used as a divisive force. This is a disservice and distortion of the core truth of any religious faith. It is alarming that there are people who get away with saying things that borders on incitement while those who point out the obvious are persecuted.

A question that begs an urgent answer is: “Why has our culture become so divisive?” The timeless words of Jesus are so apt. “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand”. (Mark 3:24-25).

The Apostle Paul adds to this argument: “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out as you will be destroyed by each other”. (Galatians 5:15).

When leaders and communities spend their time and energy bickering and instilling sentiments of hate and mistrust, one begins to wonder what example do they provide to the next generation? What kind of society are we giving birth to?

As Christians, our faith is not confined to just praying and doing good deeds. We are called to build bridges, not walls. Whether in politics, race relations, economic crises or disputes among families or local communities, we are challenged to be peacemakers, to find common ground and to engage in respectful dialogue.

The decisions and choices we make as Christians every day must reflect our continuous commitment towards Malaysia, in all its diversity and uniqueness. We all have a role to play in building up our country – and this translates to building strong bonds of unity among the various races and religions while ensuring that fair-play forms the cornerstone of our society.

Let us not resort to hurling allegations or casting aspersions against our fellow Malaysians of other races and creed. How often have we resorted to being suspicious and judgmental about others who do not share or practice our faith. We must lead the way to forge greater unity for the sake of our country and not be the instigators who keep tearing at the very fabric of our diversity to break us apart.

When there are those who make false allegations against us out of fear, let us not react negatively. Through our actions, we can be the beacon of light for others to see Christ through us. Likewise, we must also learn to trust, unite and journey together with our fellow Malaysians as we are one single race and Malaysians first.

We are all on the same boat journeying together with Malaysians of every race and religion, facing challenges together. Let us cast our oars in the same direction and continue to plant the seeds of unity, maintain peace and reconcile and build our nation and its people. This is how we bring real meaning to Merdeka and what it means to be Malaysians.

We continue to pray that our Government will provide a leadership of inclusiveness, openness and accountability, work towards reducing poverty and improving the quality of life for all.

Our simple hope for Malaysia can be summarised through the humble words of St Teresa of Calcutta, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other”. Indeed, we are alike in our hearts. With God as our loving guide, may our love for our neighbor increase and may we continue to celebrate the diversity of this country – a place where we belong to each other – Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih.

Almighty God, bless our country Malaysia and make it true to the ideals of freedom and justice. May all Malaysians work together to make our country a great nation. Amen

SELAMAT MENYAMBUT HARI MERDEKA DAN HARI MALAYSIA!

“May we continue to pray earnestly for our beloved Malaysia.”

+ Most Rev. Julian Leow,
Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur             

+ Most Rev. John Wong,
Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu

+ Most Rev. Simon Poh,
Archbishop of Kuching                       

+ Rt Rev. Bernard Paul,
Bishop of Malacca-Johore

+ Rt Rev. Sebastian Francis,
Bishop of Penang

+ Rt Rev. Cornelius Piong ,
Bishop of Keningau                            

+ Rt Rev. Julius Dusin Gitom,
Bishop of Sandakan                            

+ Rt Rev. Richard Ng,
Bishop of Miri

+ Rt Rev. Joseph Hii,
Bishop of Sibu