The Eng Chuan Tong Tan Kongsi (Tan Clan Association) celebrated the Dong Zhi (Winter Solstice Festival) with a dinner cum karaoke just now. Like last year, my neighbours with the Tan surname, Soon Leong and wife, Mr. Tan and I, attended the function. More than three hundred clansmen and their family were there. It was an eight-course dinner that began promptly at 8pm. Clan gatherings like this is a good way to renew kinships and forge new ones. Although I attended the same function last year, it was still an awesome experience to be among so many clansmen at the same place and time.
Eng Chuan Tong Tan Kongsi at Halaman Seh Tan, Penang.
The ornate Tan Kongsi granite facade.
The ancestral altar.
Tan and Tan and Tan and Tan …
One year ago today, while my neighbours gathered to roll tang yuan (glutinous rice flour dumplings) and celebrated Dong Zhi (Winter Solstice Festival) communally, my cousin Anna came with Anne. I had called Anna earlier telling her I wanted to learn more about the Christian way of life. This followed the vow I made just before Mum died. I listened attentively as Anne introduced Jesus and his teachings to me. Thus began my catechism of the Roman Catholic doctrines.
My heart bleeds to see the wrangling that has been happening currently. What more pain have we inflicted on the Man who died for us on the cross in Calvary? Each time we take a jab against the other, we are ripping apart the very fabric of our faith. Whether unwittingly or intentionally, by squabbling openly in public, we have created an unsavoury image of what our beliefs are all about. Verily, this does not augur well in promoting Christianity as a whole and Roman Catholicism in particular.
Pray, my sisters in Christ, that He may take away your antipathies. We, the defenders of the faith, are reflections of Christ in how we live. What we say, what we do and how we interact in the community reveals a great deal about the religion we practice. I am a neophyte, the newest among the three of us to take this walk with Jesus. I have plenty to learn. I need reinforcement from time to time to strengthen my conviction in God. I look to you two, especially your writings, whenever I need to remind myself that I am not alone in this journey in Roman Catholicism blogosphere in Malaysia.
Bring to an end this tit for tat which is not doing you two any good. As St. Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia: After all, brothers, you were called to be free; do not use your freedom as an opening for self-indulgence, but be servants to one another in love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in the one commandment: You must love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at one another and tearing one another to pieces, take care: you will be eaten up by one another. (Ga 5:13-15 NJB)
In the spirit of Christmas, I urge both of you to extend peace and goodwill to each other. There is no rift so wide that it cannot be bridged. Let us offer each other olive branches and let bygones be bygones. Let us celebrate the birth of our Saviour with a contrite heart, love for one another and as faithful servants of God. This is one gift I am absolutely certain Jesus will be very happy to receive. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and bring you both into reconciliation.