2020 New Year Chapel Hour

Update: January 9, 2020

The 2020 New Year Chapel Hour was held at the university chapel on January 8 (Wed).

The service conducted by Rev. Shoko Kitanaka began with a chorus of Hymn "Ring Out Wild Bells" by all those in attendance, and continued with a Scripture Reading of Matthew 5:13-16.

Following the Scripture Reading, President Junko Hibiya delivered her message.

Full text of President Hibiya's message is below.


A Happy New Year! I became the 10th President of ICU in April, 2012. Today, I would like to deliver my eighth and last New Year's message to you.

October 11 of that year, about six months after my inauguration, marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. On October 11, 2011, one year before, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter entitled, "Porta Fidei" and wrote, "We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden." Based on the Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 5 Verses 13 to 16 that was read earlier, he expressed his deep concern that we are no longer the salt of the earth or the light of the world.

Jesus Christ, our Load, in the sermon on the mount, told this to the crowds, who were poor, disdained and alienated. The same is addressed to each one of us here today. To start the year 2020, let us reflect on whether we live everyday as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

I trust that you have had ample opportunity to savor feast during the holiday season. Just imagine a world where there is no salt. Everything you had must have been unappetizing. Whether it is turkey, roast beef, ozoni, or namasu (a dish of finely chopped raw vegetables soaked in vinegar), a pinch of salt dramatically improves its taste. Even more importantly, we cannot live without salt. "You are the salt of the earth." That is to say, we are indispensable.

Last year, Japan was struck by numerous natural disasters, in particular, typhoons. A friend of mine was forced to move from one hotel to another because the electric current was cut off for a long time. I assume you light a candle in a blackout. (Or, a flashlight, probably.) A candle saves a room without light from the utter darkness no matter how small the may be. "You are the light of the world." That is to say, we are capable of lighting up the dark.

What "good works" are expected in order for us to shine as the light of the world? I find a clue in the message Pope Francis delivered at the occasion of his gathering with the youth in Tokyo last November. Permit me to quote; It is meaningful to ask "For whom do I exist?" ... Without doubt, you exist for the Almighty God. However, God desires you to exist for others as well. God has given you many good things, blessings and charisma. All of them are for others, rather than for yourself.

Five individuals who have applied for refugee status and one refugee foreign student, all living in Japan, attended this event. The applications in 2018 were as many as 10,493; only 42 were pproved, including 13 from Congo, 5 each from Yemen and Ethiopia, 4 each from Afghanistan and China, 3 each from Iran and Syria. The number is extremely low among the developed countries. While we must remedy such situation, we may perform good work in a sphere close to ourselves by emphasizing with and giving assistance to those who suffer from sickness, injury and poverty. In our daily life, we may give our seat in a train to one who needs it. When we perform such a work not from a sense of duty or for self-satisfaction but with gratitude to God who gives us many blessings and the empathy for others, we see the Kingdom of God through the light that reflects His glory.

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