Dear Hindu Friends,
With great delight and heartfelt thanksgiving, we wish you a happy and blessed festival of Deepavali! Throughout this great celebration of the triumph of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, love over fear and light over darkness, may the One Transcendent Good, Wisdom, Love and Light bless and illumine you in the coming year, and may Peace be to your House!
“Peace be to this house!” This is what Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, taught His disciples when He sent them out (Luke 10:5).
Indeed, peace can only be attained if we intentionally and collectively, with the Transcendent’s power, work to drive out our human tendencies and the temptation of evil from our lives – especially the evil of greed, ignorance, pride and ingratitude. In his Message for the 52nd World Day of Peace (1 January 2019), Pope Francis explained:
“Peace entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:
- peace with oneself: rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;
- peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;
- peace with all creation: rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.”
As followers of the Sanatana Dharma, you too, dear friends, uphold peace (shanti) as one of the highest human values on the three levels of thought (manasa), word (vaacha), and deed (karmana), and as a principle that encompasses all of creation, not just human persons (the Shanti-Mantra of Yajurveda 36.17).
Peace is a universal common good; indeed, both our faiths send us, as disciples, on a mission of peace. This is a challenging endeavour. “We need to be artisans of peace, for building peace is a craft that demands serenity, creativity, sensitivity and skill.” (Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exultate, 89)
Yet such an endeavour must be undertaken, because peace, especially religious harmony, cannot be taken for granted. At the Interreligious Organisation (IRO)’s 70th Anniversary Gala Dinner in August, PM Lee Hsien Loong observed: “You only need to look around us – and not too far away too – to recognise that the prevailing trends are towards intolerance, extremism and inter-religious strife. Even in countries where different groups have lived together for centuries, race and religion still remain sensitive issues which can be stirred up and exploited…”. Against that backdrop, what we have in Singapore is very precious, rare, and remarkable.
During this year of Singapore’s Bicentennial especially, we remember with gratitude that we are enjoying the fruits of the peace-making labours of the many artisans of all faiths who have gone before us. As the next 200 years of Singapore history is forged, let us strive to continue their work in crafting lasting peace for the common good of all through interfaith collaboration, encounter and dialogue.
So, dear friends, as you prepare to celebrate the Festival of Light in union with fellow Hindus all around the world, we wish you once again: “Peace be to your House!” May the light of the diyas shine in your homes, communities and places of worship, and may the whole of creation be filled with God’s blessings of peace and joy!
Most Rev William Goh
Archbishop of Singapore
Msgr Philip Heng, SJ