Singapore National Day
Isaiah 63:7-9; Col 3:12-17; Gospel of Luke 12:22-31
Our Nation . . . Our Faith . . . God as our unshakeable Foundation!

Preached by Msgr Philip Heng, SJ at Cathedral of Good Shepherd, on 9th August 2017

His Grace, our Archbishop William Goh’s National Day Message of Building Bridges reminds us of our need to “thank God that we have a wise government who sees the importance of religion in the lives of her people . . . who supports religions and see religion as partners in the development and growth of her peoples.”  By this His Grace means that while our government of Singapore is secular, it is not secularised. 

His Grace further adds, “Relativism has upstaged objective judgment to become the norm and absolute measure of judgment.  This explains why it is impossible for anyone to say something is right or wrong, moral or immoral.  Truth has been reduced to consensus.  Governments today no longer see themselves as the moral conscience of the people.  It is left to the individual to decide, based on his whims and fancies.” 

However, we are consoled that there is Light for us to follow.  In today’s Gospel of St Luke, Jesus points us is to the objective Truth of God’s Kingdom.  Jesus proclaims that “food and clothing” should not cause us worries and anxieties in our lives.  Even as food and clothing are important and needed they should not be our significant concern in life.  Indeed, Jesus affirms that we as human beings we are infinitely more precious than “the birds of the air, whom God feeds, and the flowers in the fields, which is there today and thrown in the furnace tomorrow.”  As such, Jesus said, “Set your hearts on His Kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well.” 

In other words, Jesus is urging us to build our lives on God our Father as our unshakeable foundation, His Divine Love as our absolute security for lasting peace and the Truth of the Holy Spirit as our constant guide and Light in our daily living.  This indeed is the solid foundation that helps us to transcend all cultures, race and religions. 

This is because as a human being, we are finite, frail and fallible.  In fact, Jesus cautions us about this truth in the preceding Gospel verses of today’s Gospel, in 12:19-21 with the parable of the foolish rich man who had so much wealth that he was planning how he would tear down his present barns and build bigger ones, and store all his wheat, and then fantasise on how he would retire and enjoy the rest of his life in luxury.  And so he said to himself, “My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, and have a good time.”  However, God said to him, “You fool, this very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?  So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God”.

Many years ago, while I was studying theology, one day, I suddenly noticed that there was a 3 cm lump on my left lower rib cage; feeling concerned about whether this growth was cancerous, I approached one of my Jesuit professor who was also a doctor and surgeon.  Father, I asked him, there is big growth on my side; what is it?  He felt the lump said, “No worries, we call this lump, fat!”  That “lump” is still there, but it looks like it has now spread all over my waist! 

My brothers and sisters in Christ, as Jesus in today’s Gospel reminds us: many things in life can worry us – whether it is food, clothing or a growth in our bodies . . . However, Jesus is reminding us that we as a person, is infinitely precious to Him and He truly loves us so deeply.  And, if we build our lives and all our securities on Him and His love for us, then Jesus says, “all these other things . . . will be given to us as well.” 

Let us reflect on this Truth of Jesus further, by looking at God’s infinite power and perfection of His Creation.  This is to give us a greater sense of the Truth of God, who is our unshakeable foundation and eternal Truth on whom we build our lives now and for all eternity.  This is the infinite “Perfection and Beauty” of God’s Creation.

In order for us to exist on Earth, our sun had to be a star with just the right mass and temperature – not too hot or too cold. Our sun generates a perfect amount of energy for life on Earth. The sun releases more energy in one second than mankind has produced in all of human history. If we were to experience a drop in the sun’s energy by only a few percent, all the oceans would freeze. The Earth is the correct distance from the sun. If the Earth were slightly closer to the sun or farther away, it would be too hot or too cold for life to exist. The size of Earth is also right, not too big and not too small.

The adult human body contains 100 trillion cells of various sizes. 10,000 average sized human cells could fit on the head of a pin and every single cell contains information equivalent to about 4,000 books. The information for all the cells in one adult in book form /would completely fill the Grand Canyon more than 75 times.

A DNA fiber is only about two millionths of a millimeter thick. While DNA is not thick and is incredibly small, it is extremely long when uncoiled. In fact, if the DNA in just one of your cells were uncoiled, connected and stretched out, it would be over 7 feet long. It would be so thin that its details could not be seen, even under an electron microscope.  If all the DNA in your body were placed end-to-end, it would stretch from here to the Moon more than 500,000 times.  If you took a set of DNA from every person who ever lived and placed it in a pile, it would weigh less than an aspirin.

Yet, the information storage density of DNA is many times greater than the most advanced silicon computer chip.  Bill Gates described DNA as, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” 

My sisters and brothers in Christ, one of the reasons for our worries and insecurities in life is living in the falsehood that what we possess and what people think of us, in other words, our wealth and our ego can give us the securities and peace in life.  And if we reflect on our life, we know that this is furthest from the Truth because our deepest peace, our joyous moments, and everlasting happiness can only come from God our Creator; Jesus, our Saviour and the Holy Spirit our Consoler. 

And so, as we celebrate our National Day today, we Singaporeans are proud of our country’s hard earned racial, religious, cultural harmony.  Indeed, as Singapore is one of the most diverse multi-racial country in the world, we are also one of the world’s foremost model of how our government, secular institutes and religions, are able to work together, be engaged in meaningful dialogue, and celebrate with great joy our different festivities.  The leaders of our government and interreligious heads have not only contributed invaluably, but are committed single-mindedly to building the “harmony” that we enjoy today.

Yet, we all know that none of our racial, religious and cultural harmony should be taken for granted; we are each called to build from “strength to strength.”  His Grace, our Archbishop William Goh stresses, “we must build bridges, not walls . . . Most of all, we should become friends first, before we can engage in spiritual or even theological dialogue . . . we can build unity in working together in social projects, especially for the poor . . . and we must be supportive of each other in crises . . . all of us have an active part to play in protecting the peace, security and harmony of our nation.  Indeed, His Grace adds, “There can be no peace unless there is mutual respect, appreciation and support of each other in our belief, culture and in charity.”

And so, as Catholic Christians, we are called to live the Gospel of Christ, to respect all peoples regardless of their race, religion, culture and language.  Indeed, Jesus also wants us to have a preferential love for the poor, needy and the marginalised of society, regardless of who they are, as all human beings are children of God; created in the image and likeness of God of His Infinite Love.

And so, as I conclude, let our National Day celebration be a renewal of our faith and our commitment to live Our Father’s Will to respect and love all peoples as our brothers and sisters in Christ; and to be enlightened by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. 

In other words, in renewing our faith, hope and love for God, as Jesus proclaimed in today’s Gospel, we are also recommitting ourselves to be loyal citizens of our nation . . . based on the Truth of the Gospel, with God as our unshakeable foundation and the unconditional Love of Jesus in our lives, that nothing and no one in this world can give us; this then is the Kingdom of God that leads to Eternal Life.  And, if we build our lives and all our securities on Him and His love for us, then Jesus says, “all these other things . . . will be given to us as well.” 

Fr Philip Heng,S.J.
Published on Jun 3, 2015

Link to watch the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiMqzN_YSXU

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