‘I will remain a Christian because of Christmas’
KOTA KINABALU: “I’m a Christian because of Christmas.” The simple but profound words of the parish rector of St Simon Church Likas left the Christmas Eve crowd in deep reflection on the significance of Christ’s birth.
In the sermon to the crowd that filled up the main Church, chapel and even the compound, Fr Cosmas Lee reflected on God’s compassion, mercy and love in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“I have been a Christian for well over 65 years. And I will remain a Christian because of Christmas. The first thing I’d like to do is this: On this Extraordinary Jubilee Year, to greet each and every one of you the most blessed Christmas.
“I’m a Christian because of Christmas. God who is powerful could save us in a hundred ways. He could write us a ‘holy book’ to guide us. He could maybe post a registered letter to us. He could maybe send an e-mail or SMS… He could have done it in many, many ways,” he said.
“But he has chosen to take your flesh and my flesh to enter into our humanity and share our human condition. Now that’s down to earth. That’s total. That’s personal. That’s intimate. The love which God came to save us was so consuming.
“You’re thinking of losing your Christian faith… tonight have a look at the image of God in the crib. Where would you find a God who will be one of us? People said ‘not possible’ because this God is so powerful, so holy. Of course, He is.
“Yet love has its own reason. And He came in a very special way. He came so weak, so humble, so uncondescending… Came down, crying, neighing in a manger, helpless child. And on the cross, a helpless victim. The cross where the worse criminals were killed – weak, never intimidating.
“He came in through mercy. This is the Extraordinary Year of Mercy. In the Creed, all Catholics are asked to bow at the words ‘and He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man’. I don’t know why, so many of you are so afraid to bow or too shy to bow. That is the heart of our faith. In this all-involving, totally involving God, to save us by becoming like one of us.
“Incredibly sacred an event, so sacred that people don’t believe it because it is beyond God. So He has come to show us the face of the Father of Mercies. A very special mercy. Your experiences and my experiences of mercy in the world is not very good, you know.
“How would you like to sit in the street of KK (Kota Kinabalu) begging and someone threw a 20 sen at you? God was never like that. Never intimidating. Always giving us mercy that we may be more dignified, that we can raise our head and look at Him and each other with confidence because there’s a mercy beyond our human definition.
“The trouble with us is we always define mercy according to how (we) throw the 20 sen. No. When God loves us out of compassion and mercy, He shares with us, all our humanity in good and bad times.
“Last year, I think I told you because God has become us, none of us should have the courage to say, ‘why this ah‘ or ‘why that ah‘… God has experienced all these sufferings and pain of humanity much more profoundly than you and I because He was truly human. Sensitive to all that is good and evil. So God loves us out of tender mercy, always warming us, always liberating us, driving us to greater dignity and height as human beings.
“I hope you will remain Christian and become better Christians especially
(in) this Jubilee Year of Mercy, that we know the tender love of God. And we while having been touched, we, too, should imitate God. Not ‘kasihan kau‘, patronising, condescending, oppressive with our mercy. No, that’s not the face of the child we see in the manger.
“That’s not the world’s mercy. It is God’s mercy. Let’s imitate Him. I hope this year all of you will somehow read at least one Gospel. This year, the Gospel in Year C is from St Luke, so appropriately. That we will read about God’s love and His parables of mercy that is so extraordinary.
“For Christmas resolution and this Year of Mercy all of us can read the Gospel of St Luke. Take time and space to prod into the mystery of God’s love and mercy for us.
“Once more, a blessed Christmas and let’s know God’s mercy tonight,” Fr Cosmas concluded.
Earlier, the churchgoers saw a video presentation based on the parish’s 2015 Christmas theme – “Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild”, followed by singing of carols led by the choir and the rector himself.