New Year Message from Bishop Phonsie

As We Begin a New Year

Dear Brother or Sister in Christ,

I wish you every blessing for 2021.

Little did we think this time last year that we would have to face a pandemic. Each year will bring its ups and downs.

Covid the Teacher

The great temptation for us all is to dismiss last year and write it off. But perhaps we should stop and ask ourselves if there has been something to learn from 2020 about human fragility, mortality and interconnectedness of the human family.  2020 has shaken us out of any complacency into which we may have fallen. 

        I learnt to trust in God more, at least I hope so. The crib meant more to me this year. I sat in front of several cribs and was again struck by the mystery of what was presented there – God in a manger, God with us in all our earthiness, with you and me for real. No fake news. He will be with us each day of 2021 also, no matter what the new year has in store. A positive mindset is vital.

 In 2017 Pope Francis wrote the following about a good attitude to life:

“You can have flaws, be anxious, and even be angry, but do not forget that your life is the greatest enterprise in the world. Only you can stop it from going bust. Many appreciate you, admire you and love you. Remember that to be happy is not to have a sky without a storm, a road without accidents, work without fatigue, relationships without disappointments. To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the stage of fear, love in discord. It is not only to enjoy the smile, but also to reflect on the sadness. It is not only to celebrate the successes, but to learn lessons from the failures. It is not only to feel happy with the applause, but to be happy in anonymity.”

Well done

I wish to say a special “Well done” to all priests, religious, and volunteers who kept our churches open and safe. Many additional Masses were held, with a pre-registration or Mass-passes/tokens or tickets and the news across the Diocese is that all those who wished to attend Mass at the sacred time of year could do so. There was room in the inn. Though the congregations were smaller the celebration of the sacred event of Christ’s birth was still profound and beautiful.

Lockdown

Now we face 2021 amid yet another lockdown.

 It is desperately disappointing that we do not have public Mass and are unable to visit and interact with our neighbours as we would wish. But our lives can still go on. Lockdown has imposed external limits but think of all that we can do. We can find different ways of being present to people. 

We are challenged again to renew our personal love of Jesus Christ. There are many people who try to cultivate a personal relationship with the Lord and who look to us for strength and encouragement.  We ought not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to act. 

 2021

A particular piece of advice which the Lord gives his followers is recorded in chapter 6 of Matthew ‘s Gospel:

       “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

People say that these are anxious times. But it is not the times which are anxious it is we who are fearful and anxious. When the Lord was asleep in the boat on the lake of Galilee (Mk 4) he saw the crisis not in the severity of the storm but in the apostles’ lack of faith. Let us pray for greater faith, and take one day at a time asking God for the grace to fill that 24 hours with our best effort. We leave the past to God’s mercy, the present to his love and the future to God’s providence. (St. Augustine)

 We do not know what lies ahead, neither did Mary and Joseph as they watched the three kings lay their gifts in front of the Christ-Child. What they did have was the presence of Jesus.  Let us continue to work with confidence not in ourselves but in Jesus.

May 2021 bring you many blessings and the grace to use them. Please pray for me and my intentions. I pray for you each day.