MJD News Update #50

The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted movement and caused lockdowns and closed churches, yet the faithful still celebrated this holy feastday, kept th

Jul 30, 2021

Greetings and Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you, dear People of God.

The week of the Novena and feast of St Anne ended on July 26. In the past, pilgrims flocked to Bukit Mertajam or Port Klang and other chapels at Alor Gajah. What a time! Pilgrims from Thailand, Australia, Brunei and Singapore and the numerous domestic devotees from as far as Sabah and Sarawak would drop by. The last two years have been different. The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted movement and caused lockdowns and closed churches, yet the faithful still celebrated this holy feastday, kept their vows, and connected online. Faith is in the heart. No pandemic, lockdown or Mass restrictions were able to stop the devotees. The pilgrims “made their way to the shrine”, the churches and the chapels. May St Anne continue to intercede for all the suffering, those who had lost much, and the needy.

Confusing times. Nobody knows who is making the decisions or when they were made. Is our country a democracy, with a government elected by the people? People are looking for credible leaders who are transparent and accountable, who love a Malaysian Malaysia, the constitution, the Rukunegara and the rule of law. Where are we heading?

An entire nation is hoping that there will be answers to the critically pivotal questions on everyone’s minds since parliamentary proceedings recommenced on Monday, July 26 — what are the rules, where are the proposals to address our overburdened hospitals and healthcare centres, and what is the way forward regarding steps to improve the economy and start healing from the debilitating effects of the pandemic and the lockdowns? Instead, we watch in disbelief as the shenanigans in that august house unfold. However, as a People of God, let us put our trust in the Almighty and seek Our Blessed Mother’s intercession for our beloved country.

1.0 A Thought for the Week: Twisting the Signpost
Once upon a time, there was an old man on the brink of death. As he lay in bed, it was clear to his friend sitting nearby that something was troubling him. Finally, the old man broke the silence. “When I was a boy,” he said, “I used to play in a field near the intersection. There, at the intersection stood an old signpost. One day I twisted it so that its arrows directed travellers down the wrong road. As I lie here now, I wonder how many people I misdirected by that action – and by other wrong actions in my life.”

Have we pointed out to others the correct direction or misguided them? In what way have we misdirected others? John the Baptist pointed out to Jesus, saying “Behold the Lamb of God!”. That day, John the Baptist’s disciples left him to follow Jesus. Don’t meddle with signs. Be the sign

2.0 Announcements for this a week:

2.1 The Caritas-MJDOHD reports that the “Bantuan Dapur” registrations have soared to 2702 todate. My thanks to all the parish Caritas committees for the many initiatives to help the needy. Be aware of the emergence of the new poor, the new needs, for example, mental health needs, rising suicides and cries for jobs. Help when you can or at least lead them to those who can help. It is our time to walk the extra mile.

2.2 The COVID-19 pandemic can be likened to the wildfires of Australia and the West Coast of the US. It is vicious and unforgiving when we are negligent. It shows no favouritism, does not respect race, religion, status, privileges, position, or wealth. The number of daily cases has exceeded the 15,000 mark. Continue to pray for the medical frontliners, the hospitals and the many charitable Malaysians.

2.3 The Parish Pastoral Assembly 2021 is scheduled for September-October 2021. It is a time to discover, discern, decide, design, and do. It is a time for parishes to listen to ‘what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church”. The parish priests, Parish Pastoral Councils and Parish Animating Teams are being prepared to facilitate this exercise. The MPI (Mission Pastoral Institute) has been asked to brief and prepare the parish teams. Feedback from parishioners will be sought too.

2.4 The Directory of Counselling Ministry and Mental Health Therapists has been compiled by the Malacca Johore Diocese Counselling Ministry. The contact list is available at all parishes. Contact the parish priests or the Counselling Offices at Majodi Plentong or Good Shepherd Seminary Melaka for more information.

3.0 This Week’s Question and Query.
The Q asks: A reforming Pope? What does it mean to reform? For Pope Francis, true reform is to take seriously that Christ is in charge of His Church; it is to make space for God to build God’s people.

1. It is a struggle because :
-- the goods of religion can easily be usurped and controlled 
-- the goods can be harnessed to un-Gospel-like purposes- 
-- attempts to profit from the goods can corrupt religion 
-- the Church can fall into worldliness i.e., the enrichment or prestige of the few

2. The signs of a deformed Church: 
-- when the Church is turned away from Christ even while it is speaking of Christ 
-- when the Church is prevented from evangelising because Christianity is reduced to an ideology or a set of precepts safeguarded by an elite few.

3. The remedy is to live by discernment, to enter the place of combat, to resist and expose spiritual worldliness, to enter the world of angels of light (the bad spirits in disguise), to be open to opposition and resistance.

Pope Francis quoted “when the dogs (opposition or resistance) are barking, it is a sign that we are moving ahead”

Thank you for reading. Let us continue to build God’s Kingdom together. The call is to shrewdness. Jesus remarked that ‘the children of this world are shrewder in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light’. He also said: ‘Be cunning as serpents, but gentle as lambs.’ God bless you. Continue to be safe and keep one another safe.

Bishop Bernard Paul
July 30, 2021

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