Message for Catechetical Sunday 2019


27th January 2019

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

2019 Catechetical SundayThe theme for this year’s Catechetical Sunday, “Christ, Our Mission” (Phil 1:21) is a call to all baptised Catholics to make Christ known to others, especially those on the peripheries.

“For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21). In this verse, the apostle Paul is saying that everything he has tried to be, everything he is, and everything he looked forward to becoming, pointed to Christ. From the time of Paul’s conversion until his martyrdom, every move he made was aimed at advancing the knowledge, gospel and church of Christ. Paul’s singular aim was to bring glory to Jesus.

The phrase ‘to live is Christ’ should be central to each one of us. “To live is Christ” means that we proclaim the gospel of Christ. It means that we imitate the examples of Christ. “To live is Christ” means that we pursue the knowledge of Christ. It means that we are willing to give up anything that prevents us from having Christ. “To live is Christ” means that Christ is our focus, our goal, our chief desire. Christ is the centre point of our mind, heart, body and soul. Everything that we do, we do for Christ’s glory.

In his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis reminds us that as baptised Catholics, we are all catechists and evangelisers. Thus as baptised Catholics, we are always encouraged to learn about our faith, but above all, we are called to give witness to the life of Jesus Christ that is at work within us. The strength of our faith, at a personal and community level, can be measured by the ability to communicate it to others, to spread and live it in charity, to witness to it to those we meet and those who share the path of life with us. St Pope Paul VI eloquently taught us that: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”.

We need to know our faith so that we can bear witnesses to it. “Nemo dat quod non habet” … We cannot give what we do not have. Therefore, knowledge of the essential teachings of our faith is important. It’s a foundation that is essential to building life-long faith formation. Many youths ask, “When does Catechism finally come to an end?” It doesn’t! We are never through learning about and experiencing our faith. The truths of the Scriptures and the teachings of our Faith have been described as a great pool in which the smallest child can play in, but one in which the brightest of theologians could never touch the bottom.

We can and should spend a lifetime swimming in that pool. As we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, it’s a great opportunity for us to check in and ask ourselves if we have learned everything there is to know about our faith, or if perhaps Christ is asking us to go a little deeper into the pool. Let us rekindle our excitement for the gift of faith and develop our enthusiasm for this treasure that we carry in earthen vessels.

Our mission, our calling, our vocation as Catholics is to make God apparent in the world. We should let others see Him through us. This Catechetical Sunday, let us recommit ourselves to our vocation as teachers of the faith. Let us vow to proclaim the Good News, to be heralds of the gospel, to be messengers of healing and hope. We need to strive, very simply, to make our lives examples of what it means to be a Catholic: To love without conditions, to pray without ceasing, to be compassion and mercy in a world full of desperation and fear.

The writer M. Craig Barnes put it beautifully, “God is always present,” he wrote, “but not usually apparent.” So let us live to make Christ, Our Mission and in the words of St Paul, “conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ”.

Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim
President of the Malaysian Catechetical Commission