Keningau (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic faithful are called to build a solid and profound relationship with God amidst the many social, economic and cultural challenges they face, such as that of the Covid-19 pandemic; and the time of Advent is a favorable time for this spiritual journey: this is what two Catholic Bishops of Malaysia say in their respective messages, sent to Fides on the eve of the new liturgical year and the beginning of Advent.
"During this life, we must build a living faith that is a witness for our neighbor", Bishop Cornelius Piong, of the Diocese of Keningau, said in his pastoral message for Advent. "All Catholics must be grateful to God for the many opportunities and blessings he has given to humanity and must be united, rooted and built on the rock that is Jesus Christ", says the Bishop.
"Brothers and sisters - the text highlights - as followers and disciples of Jesus, during the Covid-19 pandemic we all certainly feel anxious. Throughout this Advent let us focus our direction of life on Jesus, an expression of God's love, participation and salvation for us. Let us try to have faith in Jesus' message: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; trust in me" (Jn 14: 1), writes Bishop Piong.
On the same wavelength, Archbishop John Wong, of the Kota Kinabalu community, in his Advent message states: "Our lives are being tested, our faith is pushed to the brink. You might be wondering; When will it end? What else will happen next year? Where is God? Doesn’t he care about us? Entering the season of Advent, we ask God for wisdom as the Scripture promises that wisdom is readily found by those who seek it! (Wis 6:12)". Humanity, the message notes, "needs wisdom to look at life and its events with the gaze of God and live them with faith".
"When we take the time to stop and reflect, we can see God's hand at work amidst the chaos and many challenges. As the number of Covid-19 cases increases every day, we notice that the number of patients who heal every single day is equally significant. God heals, through the hands of our doctors", he notes.
Bishop Wong urges believers to thank God for all the blessings, even in difficulties: "If our plans have been ruined by the pandemic and we have been asked to stay indoors for most of the year, this time is useful to truly restore our relationship with the Lord, with our families, with our loved ones. It is a time of grace that has been given to us. There is so much to be grateful for in the midst of this storm".
The dioceses of Keningau and Kinabalu are located in Sabah, a Malaysian state that occupies the northern part of the island of Borneo. The Federation of Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country. The population is made up of almost 32.7 million people, 60% Muslim. Catholics represent 4% of the population. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 28/11/2020)