Gong Xi Fa Cai! Wishing you Prosperity in the coming year. Chinese New Year greetings are full of positive energy. Family and friends wishing every great blessing upon us and we fill ourselves with a fond hope that this year will indeed bring happiness. Typically the greetings over Chinese New Year make a lot of references to prosperity, fortune and luck, the believed gateways to happiness.
Celebrations are fun and light-hearted as we gather around the table to test our luck by gambling. We shout “huat-ah!” (“prosper!”), beckoning to the god of fortune to come our way. A hand of 13 wonders in mah-jong is a wished encounter, a god-moment with the god of fortune.
However over time, whether we are learned, self-conscious of a need to be poor or spiritually wise, the Christian in us replaced “happy” with “blessed” and began wishing a “Blessed New Year”, sometimes nullifying the loud, firecracker effect typifying Chinese New Year, but intending to call to heart the true source of all our fortune.
It is not wrong to be blessed with “good fortune”. But we must not allow fortune to carry us away and re-shape our identity. We come together over Chinese New Year purely as family and friends, sincerely wishing a good life to one another. We gather as people, “all you the humble of the earth” and all you “the world thinks as common” with “nothing at all to show” (today’s readings). This is our true identity, for we are “nothing” without the true source of our fortune: God.
Wishing another a “blessed new year” is wishing one’s year to be good through being holy. It is to wish the presence of Christ in their life. Wishing another to be “blessed” is to wish that the person’s life is made holy. It is also wishing upon the person great fortune and riches for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
We begin the year seeking the gateway to happiness and today’s readings tell us to first “seek humility”. Humility is key to dismantling our identity as a self-made person. It allows us to attribute every good fortune we are blessed with in life to the mercy and goodness of God. Humility helps us to live the identity who we are “nothing at all” without the grace of God. If anyone wants to boast, let him boast about the Lord.
Every new year is another year of journey towards the riches of the kingdom of heaven. Every year is a year full of opportunities to make ourselves holy, to huat and prosper in our spiritual life.
We will do well and have a good year when we humbly surrender to be nothing and be totally dependent on God for everything. This is the ultimate process of becoming and being holy by becoming poor to ourselves and rich in God. This is what it means by being “poor in spirit”.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. We wish for ourselves a year living in the fullness of Christ, to live a life being a blessing and a happiness for others and for God. To live the Beatitudes and be Blessed and Happy, “Huat-ah!”
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Chinese New Year