Advent Greetings from FIAMC

Advent Greetings from FIAMC
13th December 2014
Dr John Lee
Dear Friends,
As the lyrics of the Bee Gee carol goes, “When I
was small and Christmas trees were tall”, I used
to think that Advent was a time for feasting and
presents. I really looked forward to Christmas
Day when we were allowed to open our presents
with bated breath and high expectations. I must
confess that Boxing Day always seems like an
anti-climax when I experienced a sense of
disillusionment and sadness because we had to
wait for 364 days to the next Christmas! As I
grew older, I realised that feasting and presents
were just manifestations of the commercialization
of our society, and that the real meaning of Advent
which is taken from the Greek word ”Parousia”
or The Lord is coming is to prepare us for the
Second Coming of Christ. Advent is a special time
for us to pray and contemplate with Mary as we
prepare for Jesus to be born into our hearts.
Eight years ago, my wife Priscilla and I with a few of
our children and church friends decided to go to
Cambodia to bring the Joy of Advent to some
impoverished children in Cambodia following the
example of Mary who was the first to bring Jesus,
the Good News to the world. The unconditional
acceptance and love of the “poor” so moved us
that our annual family holiday is now spent in
Cambodia. The feeling of happiness when we
reach out to share Christ with others or what I call
the “Joy of Service” cannot ever be fully
described, it can only be experienced. The joy that
I was vainly searching for in material things in my
youth, I discovered in Jesus and now every day is
Christmas.
This Advent as we celebrate Christmas with our love
ones, let us spare a thought for the millions of
victims of human trafficking a subject that is close
to the heart of our beloved Holy Father Pope
Francis. I first encountered human trafficking
during one of our mission trips to an Indochina
country where I was confronted with a case of
child prostitution but did not then fully
comprehend the enormity of the problem (which
is conservatively estimated to affect at least 20
million victims annually). Subsequently I realize
that trafficking exists in every society from the
poor developing nations to the more advanced
countries albeit in different forms. In talking to
many people, I was faced with either ignorance or
a profound sense of helplessness or resignation
over what we as individuals can do to help the
victims of what can be described as modern day
slavery.
I believe from personal experience that there is much
that we can do as individuals, organizations and as
a Church to help the victims of human trafficking.
The universality of the Catholic Church gives us
the necessary framework and infrastructure to
implement solutions. The first step would be to
create awareness of the horrors of human trade.
Imagine your anguish if one of your love ones
was to be forced into selling a kidney or to work
as a sex slave in a foreign land. We as individuals
or as an organization should focus on prevention
and rehabilitation of affected individuals rather
than emphasize on enacting global legislation to
eradicate human trafficking.
I hope that this Advent, the Holy Spirit will inspire
all of us to try to do our part to eradicate this
scourge afflicting modern day society. No act is
too small or meaningless. You can begin to
change the world by restoring the dignity to one
single violated individual. In Matt 25:40, Christ
exhorts each and every one of us to bring the
Good News to those who are suffering,
“Whatever you do to the least of my sisters and
brothers, you do it to me”.
I would like to conclude this message with a prayer.
Our loving Father, open our ears to hear and our
eyes to see your quiet presence in our lives. Shape
our lives with your transforming love so that we
may be bearers of your Good News in our world.
As we await your coming in Glory during this
Advent period, keep us vigilant and faithful
knowing that you are with us always. We make
this prayer in the name of Jesus, our Lord and
Saviour, Amen.
May the peace and joy of the new born Christ be
with you and your love ones this Christmas and
always.
Yours in Christ,
John Lee