Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang’s Christmas Message for 2023 – “Gathered together by the call”

O Clarim News Bureau (English)

Dear brothers and sisters:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’”(Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Every Christmas, we reverently celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. At the same time, each year, in the midst of the world’s trauma and hope, challenges and accomplishments, there is often a reawakening of individuals and organizations who respond to the call and mission that God has entrusted to each of us. This year we are especially mindful of those who, in the midst of war, in the midst of illness, in the midst of unemployment, and in the midst of grief over the loss of a loved one, are unable to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones, but must do so nonetheless.

As this is the Diocesan Year of Vocations, I am particularly reminded of the theme emphasized by Pope Francis in his Message for the 60th World Day of Prayer for Vocations this year: “Vocation is both a grace and a mission.” We must realize that the Lord’s call is a grace, a gift freely given, and at the same time a commitment to reach out, to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world, to bear witness to it … A Christian believer, under the urging of the Holy Spirit, should feel for those marginalized people and those living in difficulty. He should always keep in mind that the mission of the Church is the work of God and does not rely solely on personal ability, but on working with our brothers and sisters in the communion of the Church and under the guidance of the Church’s pastors, because He wants us to live with Him in a communion of love – this has always been and always will be God’s dream.

For this year’s advent, the diocese has selected for viewing and discussion three films that challenge social injustice, the loss of human dignity, and the wavering of ideals: Diary of a Teenager, Under the Sun, and Voices of Freedom. Recall that the Messiah came to save his people from their sins. Therefore, as Christians, we all share a common mission to witness joyfully in different situations, in words and deeds, in Jesus’ experience with us, and in His community, the Church. We translate it into concrete actions with spiritual and corporal works of mercy, uphold a gentle style of life that accepts others and expresses care, compassion and tenderness, thus swimming against the current of a throwaway and apathetic culture. If we are like the good Samaritan, we will be neighbors to all.

I invite you to meditate on the birth of Jesus Christ in the manger: vocation is a gift and a mission, a source of new life and true joy. May the series of prayer meetings and activities of this Year of Vocations strengthen the awareness of vocations in families, parish communities, communities of consecrated life, as well as in charitable organizations and ecclesial movements, so that the Holy Spirit may rouse us out from our laziness.

Finally, the Diocese is also welcoming vocations to the diaconate and to the priesthood this year. I eagerly look forward to your prayers and to seeing more young men and women respond to their vocations. Within the Church, men and women alike, we serve according to our vocations, charisms and missions. The vocation to self-giving, which each of us receives in love, is developed and materialized in this way. In particular, men and women in the consecrated life dedicate themselves to God for their brothers and sisters and to the role of prophets for the Kingdom of God, while those who receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders are entrusted with the service of evangelization, prayer, and commitment to the communion of the People of God. In the Church, the true nature and richness of each unique vocation can only be revealed if it is connected to all the other vocations. In this way, the Church is a symphony of vocations, where all the different vocations are united, each in its own way and in harmony, and are linked together in order to shine in the world the light of the new life of the Kingdom of God, that is, the light of the birth of the Little Jesus Child in the manger.

May Christmas and the coming of the new year bring to the world as the Psalm (72:7) says: “In his days may righteousness flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!”

Wishing you all a Christmas and a New Year full of grace and peace.

+ D. Stephen Lee Bun Sang

Catholic Diocese of Macau

+ Bispo D. Stephen Lee

Diocese de Macau