"How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle; they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn; they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right; they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful; they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart; they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; that is how they persecuted the prophets before you."
The above Scripture passage (from the Gospel according to Matthew 5:1-12) is the core of the meekness and humility that every Christian inherits. It is none other than the introduction to our Lord Jesus Christ's Sermon of the Mount, called the Beatitudes. Rather, this is the promise that God gives us if we walk the land with the love of Christ, amid all kinds of suffering. A promise that not only stood true 2000 years ago, but also true here right now.
The above passage was also chosen as the Gospel reading for the Mass for Peace and Justice last Monday evening in Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. It was a Mass celebrated with a special intention - which is to pray for the abolishment of the draconian Bolehland law called the Internal Security Act (ISA). The ISA dragnet on last Friday which involved the arrest of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, and opposition MP Teresa Kok has called an uproar amongst the society, opposition leaders, and even amongst the government ministers and leaders within the ruling coalition!
Amid all the chaos and uproar, Home Minister Syed Hamid first proclaimed that the arrest was championed by the police without his consent, and that one of the arrests was of goodwill which is the provision of protection. The very next day the same minister dropped hint that he was only doing his job (pertaining to the so-called 'security threat' by the arrested trio).
And so, "WE ARE FED UP. WE ARE ANGRY. WE WANT CHANGE!" One of the introductory words to Fr Fabian Dicom's sermon. [I felt the same, and am tired of all the lies.] Fr Fabian began his sermon with the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World which is as follows:
"The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ."
He highlighted that we were tired of the suppression of truth, how ISA caused misery amongst the arrested, and how ISA has caused so much nonsense in the society. As ISA breeds injustice and violation to human rights, we as Christians need to respond instead of being complacent. We are called to make a difference, and hence we need to put our faith in action, be it active in prayer for peace and justice, or bold and courageous to speak against injustice. We were now probably one voice away from making a difference in our country Malaysia, and we need that once voice to get Malaysia back. [A Malaysia with peace, justice, credibility, accountability, and transparency.]
During the Thanksgiving Hymn, the song "Be Not Afraid" moved me to tears. It was a message that God is always with the oppressed, and God will always be before us if we have faith in His promise amid all persecutions. And yes, the song also marks Scripture promises that we the faithful need to claim.
Prior to the end of the Mass, there was a simple candle light service. Each parishoner and priest was given a candle (free) that was lit from the Paschal candle. Within seconds the whole church was lit only by candle lights (all church lights were switched off, with the exception of the tabernacle and Word of God column at the altar). As a gesture to provide spiritual support to all ISA detainees, all of us raised and waved our candles while singing "We Have Overcome", "Lagu Rakyat", "Suara Rakyat", and "Prayer For Peace".
At the end of the service, Fr Francis Anthony gave a short speech, and at that time he deliberately "welcomed" certain special "guests", which he said he was sure (and I believe true) they were indeed present there. And, in front of the special "guests", Fr Francis reminded us that we are called to be peacemakers and NOT peacekeepers.
And, at the end of the Mass, a strong message embedded in the Final Hymn "Go Tell Everyone" was sung. When Jesus resurrected 2000 years ago, not even the Roman Empire could hide it from the world. In the same way, I believe and have faith that the strong message of anti-ISA could not be hidden as well. And I do hope that our special "guests" receives this message (specially from all of us the parishoners) well and with open heart. I do pray that God would touch the hearts of the "guests", as well as those who has already wronged so many rakyats.
By the way, I totally agree with Fr Fabian that the arrest of RPK, Tan and Kok could be labeled as the silliest accuse in the Guinness Book of Records.
Notice of the special Mass, risalah (brochure) and anti-ISA tag that I bought (for mere RM1)
Parishoners and priests lifting their candles
Blog posts of some of my fellow blogger friends:
For the gomen fellas that still support ISA and might be reading this, the following is a small token from me:
[ ISA is in block letters, and it means Internal Security Act, not Nabi Isa. ]