MEMORIAL MASS FOR VICTIMS OF THE PARIS BOMBINGS,
CHURCH OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER
THURSDAY, 19 NOVEMBER, 2015, 8:30pm
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The recent bombings in Paris have shattered many lives; affecting not just those of your countrymen in France, but your own community here in Singapore. It has also brought fear into the lives of peoples all over the world; not knowing when the next target will be. Understandably, you must be feeling outraged, anguished and sorrowful; after all, such outrage against humanity can only come from the most misguided minds influenced by those who have political and ideological objectives. This is an atrocious and abominable sin committed not just against the French people but against humanity.
As your shepherd, I want to assure you that my thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of searching.
We may not understand the reason why the Lord allows this senseless loss of lives to happen, but we know that He is with us, especially in our pain, sinfulness and shame. Jesus Himself too was not spared from the sins against humanity. He suffered injustices, was tortured and killed in the most ignominious and shameful way because of the sins of misguided and misinformed political and religious leaders.
The French community here has a special place in Singapore, and in particular, the Catholic community. It was your forefathers who brought the faith to our shores, and worked tirelessly to ensure that it took root. It was they who built our first mission schools, orphanages and hospitals, and of course our many churches. The MEP fathers and the religious sisters provided excellent role models of Christian charity for us. They faced many hardships along the way, but they remained determined, totally devoted to the cause and were steadfast to the end. They taught us what it meant to be servant leaders and showed us the face of Christ. Today, many of them remain beloved members of our clerical community.
Tonight, we want to return the love that your forefathers gave to us, and hold you in our hearts as you grieve with your family and friends in your loss. May the spirit of your forefathers, who never cowed in the face of challenges, keep you strong, and may you draw strength from the promise of our heavenly Father that He will never abandon us, for He says in Isaiah 41:10-13, ” do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be alarmed, for I am your God. I give you strength, truly I help you, truly I hold you firm with my saving right hand.
11 Look, all those who rage against you will be put to shame and humiliated; those who picked quarrels with you will be reduced to nothing and will perish. 12 You will look for them but will not find them, those who used to fight you; they will be destroyed and brought to nothing, those who made war on you. 13 For I, Yahweh, your God, I grasp you by your right hand; I tell you, ‘Do not be afraid, I shall help you.’” So even in the face of such unimaginable crime against humanity, we must remain firm in our faith and withstand such threats to peace and unity in the world.
In solidarity with the Church in Singapore, I extend my deepest condolences to you and your loved ones in this time of grief. I assure you of my prayers that the Lord will heal you all, console and enlighten you and, difficult as it may be, to forgive your enemies as they “do not know what they are doing.” We pray that God will enlighten all religious and political leaders to do the right thing in preserving peace, justice and social order in the world, among all religions and among all peoples.
Most Rev. William Goh
Archbishop of Singapore