As we usher in 2020: Do we change to stay relevant in this changing world?

As we usher in the lunar new year of the rat, it is most appropriate for us to ponder if we as Catholics are still relevant in this everchanging world.

Jan 20, 2020

“Movement in new direction helps find new cheese.” - Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? 1998 Putnam Adult

As we usher in the lunar new year of the rat, it is most appropriate for us to ponder if we as Catholics are still relevant in this everchanging world.

In Spencer Johnson’s fable, the cheese is a metaphor for what we want in life — a happy family, a good job, a loving relationship, money, possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind, our relationship with God. The maze is where we have been looking for it — we may be lost in it, unwilling to explore or discover that the cheese has turned bad. Life, too, changes, whether we like it or not. We need to change our strategy to look for our cheese elsewhere.

We may be going through a difficult change at home or work. Or we may be stuck in a rut and can’t seem to move on. The rat has to move in a new direction to find fresh cheese. We too must change our course, our leadership, our ways of thinking. The Church also could be likened as the rat, and she has to keep  on searching for a new direction on how best to advance God’s Kingdom.

The whole of human existence on earth from the time of creation till now has been one of change. The almighty God has sent prophets, judges and kings to the errant Israelites to change and repent. Those who refused perished. Christ came to show God’s love for His people, and his ministry is one of conversion. St Paul admonishes, “I appeal to you… Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1,2.

The recently canonised St John Henry Newman says, “To live is to change, to be perfect is to change often.” He recognises that change is integral in our life journey.

The Church has been undergoing constant changes too, albeit very slowly, all for the greater glory of God. The Holy Spirit has been directing the Second Vatican Council; more and more graces are being unfolded in our time. Recently, several synods were organised where the laity was invited to participate and to offer their views. The Synod of Bishops on  Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment resulted in greater participation of the laity. It is the way forward for the Church.

Pope Francis told the Roman Curia at Christmas Eve: Do not fear change; it is like the missionary church. Indeed, changes are necessary to serve humanity better. Trusting in our Lord will give us the courage to embrace change and make us still relevant in 2020 and beyond.

Pope Francis says, “God is not afraid of new  things! That is why he continually surprises us, opening our hearts, and guiding us in unexpected ways.” With humble minds and hearts, let us reflect on how best we could use our gifts and talents to participate in the life of the Church. Can we put aside the fear of change so that the Kingdom can be advanced? --By Prof Kwan-Hoong Ng, PhD, DABMP, Department of Biomedical Imaging & University of Malaya Research Imaging Centre

Total Comments:5

Sr Angeline Poh,
Very well-written! Indeed change is necessary. Another important element is discernment. To discern the will of God, otherwise change may not be beneficial! Thanks for the article!
Yes, a humble mind and heart following the prompting of the Holy Spirit are ingredients for refreshing change in ourselves, family (domestic church) and finally the Mother Church.
Hsu, ching
Everything will change except the word of the Lord.
Prof José Florencio Lapeñ
To paraphrase Hans Küng, we must “inform ourselves of what has transpired, so that being inspired, we can transform” - - ourselves, our families, communities, countries, planet, universe ... perhaps towards what Teilhard de Chardin referred to as the “omega point,” the cosmic Christ.
The Church has always been a really interesting institution. She defies the prevailing perspective of the world, always a paradox. She is ancient, unchanging yet “semper reformanda” (always in need of reform). Yes and no, she needs to change. For the first part there is nothing new or anything to be added to what we know about the faith. Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. And every pope even takes an oath to preserve these beliefs. But yes also in a sense the Church needs a new direction because evangelization is creative. We find new ways to proclaim the Gospel but always the same Gospel, nothing new