President’s Commentary: Red Mass Celebration 2011

We have heard and read biblical passages where Jesus has repeatedly extended his invitation to all with the expression ‘follow me!”

At first glance such an invitation would mean having to give up everything one possesses and follow Christ.

With such narrow thoughts, I found myself puzzled by Bishop Joseph Hii’s choice of readings for the Red Mass.

The Gospel taken from Mark 2:13-17 begins with Jesus meeting Levi the son of Alphaeus, who was then seated by the customs house. Jesus said to him, 'Follow me.' The passage informs us that on hearing the invitation, Levi got up and followed Christ.

Bishop Joseph explained in his sermon that the invitation was not necessarily a call to give up our profession or our livelihood. Rather it was an invitation to change our ways. Levi may not have necessarily given up his job at the custom house, but by accepting Christ’s invitation he had learned to carry on with his job albeit in accordance with the teachings of Christ. This made absolute sense to me. We have been brought thus far in our practice as lawyers. I am sure this has all been made possible through the grace of God. But I believe there is more that is required of us. As Bishop Joseph Hii explained, merely attending Sunday mass may not necessarily mean we are not lapse Catholics. The phrase usually reserved for example for those who fail to attend Sunday mass or follow the teachings of the Church, could equally apply to those who merely observe the minimum requirements of being a Catholic, i.e. attending the compulsory Sunday Mass and days of obligations!

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Congregation gathering at the foyer
Taking the queue from Bishop Joseph Hii’s sermon, I believe we are called to do greater things and perhaps we should all come to the forefront and do our part. We are all saddled with limited time and other commitments etc. Ah yes, the current KPI in the judiciary may have taken a toll on us as well.

We can all find the necessary excuses and justifications for our actions and no doubt they are all valid and substantiated. But our spiritual life takes a battering in the process of our busy life. Perhaps it is time that we take stock of the graces we have received and probably it is time to give back!

We have begun the legal year in the annual tradition of offering ourselves in service to God in our vocation as lawyers through the celebration of the Red Mass or Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. We were fortunate to have Most Rev Bishop Joseph Hii, Auxiliary Bishop of Sibu as the presider of our Red Mass 2011. Con-celebrating with him was, His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez, Rev Fr. Jestus Pereira (our new spiritual director), Rev Fr. Philip Tan Superior of the CDD and Rev Fr. Dr. Lucas Ng Parish Priest of St. Ignatius Church, Petaling Jaya. The Red Mass also saw the presence of His Grace the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam. All these wonderful people took time off their busy schedule to be with us and to pray for us! I am certain that the 70 odd Christian lawyers present at the Red Mass had found the celebration nourishing which has provided us all with the appetite to champion the course of justice!

There is much work to be done. But foremost, let us be relentless in our pursuit to follow Christ. We look forward to all your continuous support for the Society.

God Bless,

Joy Appukuttan
President 2010/2011
15th Jan 2011

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