Wednesday, December 29, 2010

跟随那颗星

主显节 – YEAR A

在今天的福音中提到多少个君王? 只有一个那就是黑落德王. 我们常在报佳音时提到的三王呢? 在福音中从未提到这三王.其实, 在福音中, 他们称为贤士 – 很可能是占星家或是风水专家或 “巫师”. 天主却将他圣子的诞生启示给这些非犹太贤士.

犹太人, 旧约的子民, 天主的选民对这盛大的事件茫然无知. 而少数外邦人, 事实上是魔术师却知道. 为什么呢? 或许, 这些犹太人对自己的宗教定了型. 他们认为天主是在圣山中, 在圣殿内及在神圣的地方.对默西亚, 这预告的显赫人物该出自豪门. 他们没能接受天主竟选择诞生在马槽里的事实.

有时, 我们也对某些想法定了型, 对新的想法不开放. 这是因为我们长久以来一成不变地做着同一样的事. 如此, 我们不只在某岗位上紧守不走同时在思想上也停滞不前. 每当别人提出有建设性的主意或意见时, 我们通常以自己的悲观主意加以打击 – “这是行不通的!” “我们从没做过!” “让我们照以前试过的方法做好了!” 因为这样的态度, 我们压制一切发展及改变. 当天主设法给我们显示他的旨意时, 我们也加以阻挠.

今天的福音挑战我们去认出那颗星 – 正如那颗..引贤士们到耶稣跟前的星. 我们的天主常给人惊奇. 如果我们对天主的某些看法固守不变, 天主变得可预测的, 他就不是天主了. 我们应让天主做天主. 这意谓着我们应让天主选择显示自己的方式. 天主可以选择给小孩显示自己. 天主可以选择在生活的平凡中显示自己. 天主可以选择在温和宁静中来到我们中间而不是以奇迹炫耀方式. 我们必须让天主以他自己的方式成事而不是依照我们的意思. 每当我们跟随那颗星 – 每当我们跟随天主的信号 – 一个新的主意 – 一个新的牧灵计划 – 一个新的方向 – 我们不知道它会领我们到什么地方. 我们只须以信德前行. 然而如果我们诚心向天主的旨意, 指引开放, 我们在旅途的终点必能找到耶稣. 他在等待我们到他跟前.

愿我们不会在路途中迷失. 有时, 我们很想放弃. 有时, 因其他事,分散我们的注意力. 但如果我们迷失了, 将有一颗星引领我们的方向及终点. 那颗星不是我们的目的地. 它只不过指向耶稣 – 世界的真光 – 来到世界领我们到天父的光. 让我们跟随他!

Following A Star

Epiphany Year A

How many kings were there? Three? Well, the answer may come as a surprise to us - There is only king mentioned in the gospel today, it is King Herod. What of the three kings that we usually sing of in our carols? Nowhere in the gospels is the number three mentioned. Neither are they spoken of as kings. In fact, the gospels describe them as ‘wise men’ – most likely astrologers or what we would call today as ‘feng-shui’ experts or ‘bomohs.’ It was to these non-Jewish wise men that God chose to reveal the birth of his Son.

The Jews, the people of the Old Testament, God’s chosen people – they were totally ignorant of this great event. But a few Gentiles, magicians in fact, came to recognize it. Why was this? Perhaps, the Jews have been so used to thinking about their religion in fixed ways. God is to be found on sacred mountains, in the Temple and in holy places. The Messiah being such a great figure in the prophecies must definitely be a powerful personage that has to be born into wealth and power. They were not prepared to accept the fact that God may choose to be born in a stable.

Sometimes, we too are so fixed in our ways of thinking. We are not open to new ideas. That’s usually the case when we have been doing a thing for such a long time. We not only become stuck to a position but also get stuck to a way of thinking. Whenever someone has a creative idea or suggestion, we usually shoot it down with our pessimism. “It would never work?” “We have never done this before!” “Let’s stick to the old ways of doing things that have been tried and tested!” Because of this attitude, we stifle growth and change. We also put obstacles in the way of God attempting to reveal his will to us.

Today, the gospels challenge us to recognize the stars – just like the star that led the wise men to Jesus. Our God is a God of surprises. If we are stuck to certain ways of thinking about God, God then becomes predictable – he ceases to be God. We must allow God to be God. This means that we must allow him to choose the way in which he wants to reveal himself. God can choose to reveal himself to the little one. God can choose to reveal himself in the ordinary things of life. God can choose to come to us in a quiet and peaceful way and does not need to put on a big show of miracles. We must allow him to do things according to his plans and not according to our own will. Whenever we follow a star – whenever we follow a sign from God – a new idea – a new pastoral plan – a new direction – we may never know where it will lead us. We are merely asked to walk by faith. But if we are faithful and open to God’s will and direction, then we will find Jesus and God at the end of our journey. He is waiting for us to find our way to him.

Let us pray that we will not get lost along the way. There will be times that we feel like giving up. There will be times other distractions draw our attentions. But if we ever get lost, there is always the star to remind us of our direction and destination. That star isn’t our destination. It is merely pointing the way to Jesus himself – the Light of the World – the light which has come into the world to show us the way to the Father. Let us follow him!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

“不正常”的成为 “标准”

圣家节 – Year A

昨天我们庆祝圣诞节. 今天我们庆祝圣家节. 这是提示我们圣诞节和圣家节是互相关联的. 基督降生成为人类家庭中的一份子好使我们成为天主家庭中的成员.

许多年前, 数代同堂的家庭是常有的现象. 它任何的变化将以 “反常” 看待. 今天事情有了很大的改变. 现代的家庭人数越来越少. 现今, 几个亲属家庭同居一屋是罕见的. 单亲家庭也不断增加, 因这项巨变, 正常传统家庭的定义已难于持守.

我们越仔细观察圣家, 玛利亚, 若瑟和耶稣, 我们越能领悟这圣家是如何别于所谓的传统模范家庭. 若瑟娶了玛利亚但不是耶稣的亲父亲. 玛利亚与若瑟结婚, 其实他们共同生活有如兄妹. 玛利亚看似很年青就守寡, 因福音前几章提过他之后就不再提及. 玛利亚可说是位单亲妈妈亲自养大耶稣. 耶稣是唯一子却在众多堂,表兄弟姐妹的陪伴下长大. 圣家肯定是个贫穷的家庭 – 也许因此剥夺了耶稣与当时儿童们所应有的享受.

当我们看到圣家是那么的 “不正常” 时, 我们也因此看到圣家如何可以成为 “标准”传统所谓的模范家庭的楷模. 同时也是 “不正常” 家庭如: 破裂, 单亲家庭, 那些努力维持彼此关系的家庭的模范. 耶稣真正了解你所经历的一切. 没有学校供应有关做父母的教导. 我们的孩子也不是我们的私人财产; 当他们长大成人后, 他们决定自己的人生. 情感的破裂, 背负, 创伤都是生活中的现实. 然而, 圣家却给了我们希望的景象. 如果天主是家庭生活的中心, 那不管困难有多大, 不管创伤有多深, 不管彼此之间的分歧有多大, 天主已一一克服了因他在耶稣内经历了一切.

今天不是宣讲有关家庭 – 有关什么你该与不该做的道理. 而是为家庭向天主谢恩的一天. 随着婚姻破裂,不幸家庭, 夫妻不和, 年老父母被儿女遗弃在老人院的统计不断增加, 的确, 基督徒家庭 – 人性的家庭确实是一个奇迹. 我们永不能忘记家庭是创造主慈爱关怀的恩赐. 不能认为它是理所当然的. 每一个家庭成员是珍贵的不可以为是理所当然的. 在今天的弥撒当中, 让我们感谢天主所赏赐家庭的一切恩惠.

The 'Abnormal' Norm

Holy Family Year A

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas, today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. We are reminded that Christmas and the family are intimately linked. Christ came as a member of a human family to enable us to be part of God’s family.

Many years ago, a family with 2 parents and several children and certain members of the extended family (e.g. grandparents, cousins, unmarried uncles or aunties) would be considered a “normal” family. Any variations from that would be seen as “abnormal.” Today, things have changed enormously. Families are getting smaller and smaller. Today, we seldom see several families related to one another living under the same roof. The number of single parents are increasing – women separated or divorced from husbands living with their children. Because of this drastic change in the makeup of the family, we can no longer hold on to the traditional definition of the family which is ‘normal.’

The more we examine the Holy Family, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, the more we begin to understand how this family is so unlike the ‘normal’ families which we have come to accept as the traditional model of the family. Joseph was married to Mary but was not the real father of Jesus. Mary and Joseph were married but were actually living as brother and sister. Mary seemed to have been widowed at a young age as there no longer any mention of Joseph after the first few chapters of the gospel. In fact, Mary may have been a single mother who had to single-handedly raise Jesus all on her own. Jesus was an only child but would have grown up in the company of many cousins. The holy family was certainly very poor – Jesus would have been deprived of many of things that other children of his age would have enjoyed.

When we recognize how “abnormal” the Holy Family is, then we will begin to see how the Holy Family becomes a model not only for the ‘normal’ and traditional families – the so-called ‘good families – but also a model for the ‘abnormal families’ – the broken families, the single-parent families, the families that are struggling to keep their relationship together. Jesus truly understands what you are all going through and the struggles that you are experiencing. There is no school for mothers and fathers where they learn the art of parenting. Our children are also not our private possessions and when they are old enough they will decide how to live their own lives. Broken relationships, betrayals, hurts are facts of life. But the holy family also gives us a picture of hope. If God is at the center of family life then no matter how big the problem may be, no matter how serious the hurts may have become, no matter how wide the chasm that has grown between individuals, God has overcome all because he has been through it all in the person of Jesus.

Today is not a day for preaching about family – about what you should do or not do. Rather, today is a day for giving thanks to God for families. In the face of increasing break down in marriages, broken families, estranged couples, children leaving their elderly parents in homes, the Christian family – the human family – is truly a miracle. We must never forget that the family is a precious gift of a loving and caring Creator. It must never be taken for granted. Each member of the family is precious and can never be taken for granted. Let us in today’s mass, give thanks to God for the gift of families in all its forms.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

圣言的真光

圣诞节 – 早晨

你可否想象没有话语, 没有语言的世界? 人们将无法沟通. 没有话语或语言也将没有教导或学习.

话语为我们展开了新世界. 通过话语我们学到从未看过的事物. 通过话语我们获悉有关不曾去过的地方的一切. 话语带来新生命.

耶稣是天主的圣言. 他是救恩的许诺。他是爱的言语,天主给我们每一个的情书。我们有所选择――接受他或是拒绝他。他垂允给我们接受他的人“全能,好成为天主的子女。”如果我们已接受天主的圣言,我们就该与别人分享。语言除非共享不然毫无用处。言语是用于交流和建设团体。

你可否想象没有耶稣的世界? 你可否想象没有圣言的世界? 我们会仍在黑暗中摸索. 我们无法知道天主要我们做什么? 这就是为什么圣若望在今天的福音中讲述那为 “真光” 的圣言. 耶稣就是那道真光 – 希望之光, 知识之光, 正义和平之光 – 启迪全人类的光. 他是那光及来到世界战胜世界黑暗的圣言. 世界的黑暗所指的是我们的自私, 我们的骄傲, 暴力和仇恨及罪恶的黑暗. 你是否可想象没有希望, 没有和平, 没有恩典, 没有天主的世界?

在这圣诞节, 让我们向天主感恩. 因为今天, 天主的圣言成了血肉 – 天主成为人 – 为使我们在他内获得生命. 让我们继续与我们相见的每一个人分享这天主的圣言, 世界之光. 让我们向世界作证宣告 “圣言成了血肉, 寄居在我们中间; 我们见了他的光荣, 正如父独生者的光荣.” 恭祝大家: 圣诞快乐!

A World enlightened by the Word

Christmas Day Mass Year A

Can you imagine a world without words? Can you imagine a world without language? People would not be able to communicate. Without words or language, there will be no teaching or learning.

Words have opened up for us a whole new world. Through words, we have learnt about things that we have never seen. Through words, we have learnt about places that we have never been. Words give us new life.

We use words in our everyday communication. The 'communication' is derived from the Latin 'communicare' which means 'making communion.' Thus words used in communication seek to build communion and strengthened relationships between communicants.

Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is God's most perfect communication to us. Through Jesus, we are brought into communion with God. Can you imagine a world without Jesus? A world without the Word? We will still be groping in the dark. We will still be ignorant about what God wants with our lives. That is why St. John in today’s gospel speaks about the Word being the “true light.” Jesus is that true light – the light of hope, the light of knowledge, the light of justice and of peace – that enlightens all men. He is the light and the word that has come into the world and has overcome the darkness that is in the world – the darkness of our selfishness, the darkness of our pride, the darkness of violence and hatred, the darkness of sins. Can you imagine a world without hope, without peace, without grace, without God?

On this Christmas day, let us give thanks to God. For today, the Word of God has become flesh – God has become man – so that we have life in him. Let us continue to share the Word of God and the Light of the world with every one that we meet. Let us be witnesses to the world and make this profession: “The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father.” Merry Christmas to all of you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

这名字是什么意思呢?

将临期第四主日

一个人的名字是重要强有力的. 我们的父母给我们取好名字并希望我们拥有其气质及品德. 举个例子, 我的父母给我取名: “锦华” 盼望我有个光辉灿烂的人生. 感谢天主我的父母没有为我取 – “胖子” 或 “亚猪”或 “亚狗” 或其他类似的名字.

犹太人对为孩子取名也非常认真. 每一个名字都有它特别的意义. 圣经中的伟大人物的名字都是天主赐给他们的 – 像亚巴郎, 依撒格, 雅各伯, 洗者若翰甚至耶稣. 为孩子取名带有祝福的含义也是做父亲的首要责任. 通过所选的名字, 做父亲的可以授予孩子祝福或诅咒.

今天的福音, 我们读到上主的天使如何命令若瑟为他的儿子取名耶稣. 这名字在希伯来话是什么意思呢? “耶稣”意思是 “天主拯救.” 天使解释说 “因为他要把自己的民族, 由他们的罪恶中拯救出来.” 耶稣是我们的救主. 他是那..将带来天人合一的那一位. 他是那..从我们的自私中拯救我们并领我们进入永生的福地的那一位. 他是那战胜罪恶和死亡的黑暗的那一位. 耶稣的确不负其名字所望.

天使给耶稣另一个名字或称号. 他将称为 “厄玛奴耳” 意思是 “天主与我们同在.”这是古时所预言的默西亚的来临的称号. 厄玛奴耳这称号是给予达味王的儿子或继承人, 他将建立永恒的天主国度. 为我们每一个人, 这个名字也是强有力的.天主不是高高在上, 隐藏在神秘中. 天主亲近我们. 他成为我们当中的一份子因他的爱, 天主选择称为人分享他的脆弱, 力量, 喜乐, 忧伤, 痛苦, 苦难为使人也能分享天主的生命. 不同于其他的宗教, 在基督宗教里, 我们相信天主主动与我们亲近并不是我们设法达到完善去接近他.

愿我们每一个都努力不负我们的名字所附带的品德. 我们的名字是一个祝福也是一个挑战. 在我们准备庆祝耶稣厄玛奴耳的诞辰之际, 让我们向我们的亲友及全世界宣讲关于天主子的福音. 他是耶稣, 厄玛奴耳, 他是来救赎我们的那一位, 与我们同在的天主

What's in a Name?

Fourth Sunday of Advent Year A

A person’s name is a powerful thing. Our parents gave us names hoping that we will grow up having that quality or virtue. For example, the name given to me by my parents is “Jin Hua” which means “magnificent, splendid, bright and beautiful.” Thank God for my parents for not having given me the name “fatty” or “Ah Ju” (Piggy) or “Ah Kow” (Little Doggy) or something like that.

The Jewish people were also very particular about choosing the name of their children. Every name had its own special meaning. Many of the great men in the bible had their names chosen for them by God – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, John the Baptist and even Jesus. The choosing of a name is a sign of great blessing. It is the fundamental duty of the father to choose the name of his child. He can confer on the child great blessing or a curse by the name chosen.

In today’s gospel, we see how the angel of the Lord commands Joseph to choose a name for his Son. The name chosen is “Jesus”. What does this name mean in Hebrew? Jesus means “God saves.” The angel gives the reason for the choice of the name- “because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.” Jesus is our Saviour. He is the one who will bring reconciliation between God and man. He is the one who will save us from our sinfulness and lead us into the Promised Land of eternal Life. He is the one who has come to overcome the darkness of sin and death. He truly lives up to his name.

The angel also gives another name or title to Jesus. He will also be called “Emmanuel” which means “God is with us.” This is an ancient title that had been part of the prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. Emmanuel was the title given to the Son or ancestor of King David, the one who will establish the Kingdom of God for all eternity. For each of us, this is also a powerful name. God is not only far above in the heavens and hidden by the clouds of mystery. God has come close to us. He has become one of us. Because of his love, God chose to become man to share his weaknesses and strengths, his joys and sorrows, his pain and sufferings so that man may share in the holy life of God. Unlike any other religion, in Christianity, we believe that it is God who takes the initiative to come close to us and not we trying to perfect ourselves to come close to him.

May each of us strive to live up to the virtue that is indicated by our names. Our names are a blessing and also a challenge. As we prepare ourselves the celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Immanuel at Christmas, let us proclaim to all our friends and loved ones and the whole world, the good news about the Son of God. He is Jesus. He is Immanuel. He is the one who has come to save us. He is God who has come to live with us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

鼓起勇气来, 不要畏惧!

将临期第三主日

很多时候, 当我们被无数的困难缠绕时, 我们开始怀疑天主真的可以应允我们的祈祷吗?有时, 我们甚至开始怀疑天主的存在. 当我们被困在我们的忧虑,沮丧,失败及痛苦中时, 我们很难看到出路. 同样为我们许多在不同方面事奉或曾经事奉教会的人, 当我们遇到一些挫折, 批评, 得不到别人的支持或赏识时, 我们或许也会选择退出一切活动.

那也必然是洗者若翰在监狱里的感受. 这位若翰在约旦河为许多人受洗, 宣讲悔改, 为准备默西亚的来临. 他认出耶稣的真正身份 – 除免世罪的天主羔羊. 事实上, 若翰的一生的目的及使命就是为默西亚准备道路. 或许现在他在监狱里开始怀疑也想知道他是否撑错了人及为他放下生命是否愚蠢. 因此, 他派遣代表去证实耶稣的身份. 他们询问耶稣说: “你就是要来的那一位, 或是我们还要等候另一位?”

耶稣回答说: “你们去把你们所见所闻的, 报告给若翰: 瞎子看见, 破子行走, 癞病人得了洁净, 聋子听见, 死人复活, 穷苦人得了喜讯. 凡不因我而绊倒的, 是有福的!” 这些保证的话语肯定重新激发洗者若翰对耶稣的信赖并在黑落德王手中甘心面对死亡.

耶稣的话也是我们的好消息. 这些话的确能够 “加强痿弱的手, 坚固颤动的膝, 告诉心怯的人说: “鼓起勇气来, 不要畏惧!” 我们要记住这些话, 特别在我们想放弃一切的时候. 我们从别人所受到的挫折, 创伤, 家庭问题不能成为我们退出事奉岗位的理由. 我们必须记住, 我们所做的是天主的工作, 不是我们的. 我们应该清楚, 我们的动机. 我们所做的一切是为得到别人的接纳还是别人的尊重? 相反的, 如果我们要跟随耶稣, 那将永不是一条好走的路. 往往被当为威胁多于被赞赏. 我们所要行的路是十字架苦路.

纵然, 身为门徒的路是艰辛的, 我们有耶稣的话: “瞎子看见, 破子行走, 癞病人得了洁净, 聋子听见” 支撑着我们. 不管事情看来多糟透, 不管情况看来没有希望, 我们坚信天主在耶稣基督内已战胜黑暗.

主内的兄弟姐妹们, 让我们耐心等待主的来临. 别气馁, 当坚守基督的许诺 – “凡不因我-而-绊倒的, 是有福的!”

Courage! Do not be afraid!

Third Sunday of Advent Year A

Very often when we are surrounded by so many problems, we begin to question if God can really answer our prayers. Sometime, we can even begin to doubt that there is a God. When we are caught in the prisons of our fear, depression, failure and pain, its difficult to see a way out. Likewise, for many of us who are serving or have been serving the Church in different ways- when we encounter some setbacks, criticisms, lack of support or appreciation from others, we too might choose to withdraw from all activities.

That must be the experience of John the Baptist in prison. This is the man who had baptized many at the River Jordan, who had preached about repentance, who had prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah. This is the man who had recognized the true identity of Jesus – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In fact, the purpose of his entire life and ministry was to prepare the way for the Messiah. Perhaps, as he now sits in prison, he may have begun to doubt and now wonders whether he had backed the wrong man and had given his life for a foolish cause. And so he sends a delegation to confirm the identity of Jesus. They put this question to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?”

Jesus then gives this reply: “Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.” These are words of assurance. They must have rekindled the faith of John the Baptist and prepared him to face death at the hands of King Herod.

Jesus’ words are also good news to us. Indeed, these words are able to “strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees, and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid’” (1st reading). We need to remember these words especially when we feel like giving up. Setbacks, hurts that we received from others, family problems should never be the reasons for us to withdraw from ministry. We must always remember that it is God’s work that we are doing, not our own. We must be clear about our motivation. Are we doing all these things so that we can gain acceptance and respect from others? On the contrary, if we were to follow Jesus, it is never an easy road. Rather than gaining popularity, we will often be seen as a threat. The road that we must travel on is the way of the cross.

Even though the way of discipleship will be difficult, we will be sustained by the words of Jesus – “the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and deaf hear.” No matter how bad things may seem, no matter how dark the situation may appear, we are confident that God in Jesus Christ has already conquered the darkness.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us then be patient until the Lord’s coming. Let us not lose heart. But let us hold on to the promise of Christ – “Happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

谁是真正疯呢?

将临期第二主日

今天的福音我们读到洗者若翰这个人. 他是一个不同寻常的人–穿的是骆驼毛的衣服,腰间束的是皮带,吃的是蝗虫与野密. 我们是否可以想像他是什么样子的呢? 今天, 我们在街道上仍可看到许多这样的人 – 那些无家可归的, 我们所闪避因为他们肮脏, 有臭味的, 那些“精神有问题”的人.今天,当我看到他们- 这些无家可归的乞丐–我开始想究竟谁是疯谁是正常. 那是社会及世界判断他们不正常被遗弃的一群. 也是同一的社会允许战争导至无数的死亡. 也是同一的社会促进歧视及不容忍.也是同一的社会使无辜未出世的婴孩被杀合法化. 谁是真正疯呢?

若翰洗者是当时的先知. 他的言行毫无保留地抗议当时的政治及宗教领袖的疯狂. 他的言行挑战众人认清自己的信仰生活. 他为耶稣准备道路天国的来临.

若翰悔改的召叫是彻底皈依的召叫. 彻底的皈依意谓我们该拒绝任何形式的偏见, 歧视及不容忍. 耶稣时代的宗教领袖认为救恩已为他们许下正因为他们是犹太人, 亚巴郎的后裔 – 但是若翰却提醒他们并不是血缘使他们得救而是悔改及信赖那将要来的那一位 – 耶稣才能得救.
耶稣是很久以前所预告的默西亚. 他是依撒意亚在读经一所预许那一位 – “由叶瑟的树干将生出一个嫩枝 … 上主的神将住在他内.” 预许的这一位将以和平及正义为栋梁建立天主的国. 天主的国不是以武力建立的. 它的建立在于人心的悔改. 天主的国不能进入我们内心如果我们拒绝悔改.

如果我们留意悔改的呼声, 我们就不应再歧视他人, 对其他民族, 语言, 文化及信仰的人持有偏见.我们不能佯装我们是天主的选民如果我们不尊敬他人. 圣保禄在读经二要我们同心合意才合乎皈依及悔改的召唤. 我们的教会不断地被挑战要 “同心合意”. 没有华人教会, 印度人教会, 讲英语的教会, 或讲国语的教会这回事. 教会是由不同种族, 语言, 文化所组成的. 合一及放下我们自己的成见也是效法洗者若翰的榜样. 藉着我们的合一, 我们以先知的身份抗议马来西亚社会种族的分歧及歧视.

在这将临期…期间, 让我们准备我们的心灵,好使在圣诞佳节, 能以合一的堂口, 团体, 欢欣地迎接基督的来临.

The Sanity that comes with Repentance

Second Sunday of Advent Year A

In today’s gospel, we meet the person of John the Baptist. He is a strange figure – wearing a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist and his food was locusts and wild honey. Can we try to picture the way he looks? Today, we continue to see many such figures on the streets – the homeless, the ones whom we avoid because they are dirty and smelly, the ‘crazy ones.’ Today, when I look at them – these homeless beggars – I begin to wander – who’s actually crazy and who’s sane? It is society and the world which judges them insane and outcasts. This is the same society that permits wars in which thousands are killed. This is the same society that promotes discrimination and intolerance. This is the same society that legalizes the killing of innocent children that are yet to be born. So you tell me, who’s crazy?

John the Baptist was a prophet of his time. His actions and his words spoke out against the madness of the political and religious leaders of his time. His actions and words challenged people to take a closer look at their own faith lives. He prepared the way for Jesus, the coming of God’s kingdom.

John’s call to repentance is a call to total conversion. Total conversion means that we must reject any forms of prejudice, discrimination and intolerance. Many of the religious leaders of Jesus’ time felt that salvation was guaranteed for them just because they were Jews, descendants of Abraham. But John reminds them that it is not blood ties that will save them but ultimately repentance and faith in the one who is to come – Jesus.

Jesus is the messiah foretold long ago. He is the promised one foretold by Isaiah in the first reading – “a shoot springs from the stock of Jesse … on him the spirit of Lord rests.” The promised one will establish the Kingdom of God with peace and justice as its pillars. But the establishment of this kingdom will not be by force. It will take place with the conversion of hearts. The kingdom of God cannot enter our hearts if we refuse to repent.

If we heed the call to repentance, we can no longer practice discrimination and have prejudice towards peoples of other races, languages, cultures and religion. We cannot pretend that we are God’s chosen people if we treat others with disrespect. Indeed, conversion and repentance calls us to be “united in mind and voice” as St. Paul tells us in the first reading. Our church is continually challenged to be “united in mind and voice”. There is no such thing as a Chinese Church, an Indian Church, an English-speaking Church, nor a Bahasa Speaking Church. The Church is made up of all peoples regardless of race, language or culture. By being united and by putting aside our prejudices, we are also following the example of John the Baptist. Through our unity, we act as prophets who speak out against the racial segregation and discrimination in Malaysian society.

In this Advent season, let us continue to prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming so that at Christmas, we can truly rejoice at the birth of Christ as a community.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

改变生活的时间

将临期第一主日

时间的确宝贵。我们不可能重新获得失去的时间。过去的就让它过去。每一天我们争取时间做该做的事。做饭有定时。吃有定时。工作有定时。读书有定时。休息有定时。祈祷有定时。睡觉有定时。我们知道如果我们在一件事上浪费太多的时间,我们必要在另一事上弥补损失失。一些事情就一日复一日地延迟。

今天我们以将临期第一主日开始这季节。我们受邀以新的方式看待时间。我们必须承认时间是天主的恩赐。除非我们善用所赋予的恩惠不然就浪费了。

今天的读经提醒我们时间不只是用在我们个人活动中:不管是工作或休息。反之是天主所赏赐为使我们做出改变生命的决定。天主所赐于的时间为改变,悔过,皈依及转变。在读经二中,圣保禄写道时候已临近了:是醒来的时辰改变我们的生活:“让我们脱去黑暗的行为,佩戴光明的武器。”

现已是年终。我们必须问问自己我们是否变得更好或更怀?这整年来,我们是否对别人更关爱,友善和怜悯呢?我们是否已学到宽恕该宽恕的人呢?我们是否与我们的家庭成员尤其是我们的配偶,孩子或父母更亲近呢?我们有没有中止伤害别人和自己的环习惯呢?如果我们没有在各方面改变自己,如果我们变得更自私及自我中心,更不满,在灵修方面如祈祷或到圣堂不积极,那该是时候由睡梦中醒来反思我们的生活了。我们浪费了天主所赏赐的时间。我们滥用我们时间来满足我们自私的需要。

耶稣在福音中所给予的忠告是我们应该听从的“所以,你们要醒悟,因为你们不知道在那一天你们的主人要来。”谁能说他的时间已到了呢?谁又知道你什么时候吐最后一口气呢?如果今天我们的生活有做到必要的改变,我们将后悔。让我们别死于内心充满遗憾或怨恨。让我们准备自己,当主召回我们时我们已准备妥当。

我们也选择改变我们的生活。让这作我们为即将来临的圣诞做好准备。不只是我们房屋需要打扫除;我们的灵魂更需要打扫除。为此,你们应该准备,“因为你们不料想的时辰,人子就来了。”

Time for Change

First Sunday of Advent Year A

Time is truly precious. We are not able to regain lost time. What has passed is past. Each day, we fight for time to do things that needs to be done. Time to prepare a meal. Time to eat. Time to work. Time to study. Time to rest. Time to pray. Time to sleep. We know that if we waste too much time on one thing, we may have to make up for it on another. Some things just get postponed day after day.

Today, we begin the season of Advent with its First Sunday. We are asked to look at time in a new way. We must ultimately recognize that time is a gift from God. Unless, we use this gift for the purpose that it was given, we would have wasted it.

Today’s readings remind us that time is not just meant for doing our own activities – whether it may be work or rest. Rather, time is given by God to us in order for us to make life-changing decisions. God’s time is time for change, for repentance, for conversion and transformation. In the second reading, St. Paul writes that the “time” has come – time to wake up and change our lives – “let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light.”

As we come to the end of the year, we need to sincerely ask ourselves if we have changed for the better or for the worse? Have we grown in love, kindness and compassion towards others in this entire year? Have we learn to forgive the people whom we need to forgive? Have we grown closer to the members of our family – especially our wives and husbands, our children or parents? Have we taken time to stop the bad habits that hurt others and ourselves? If we have failed to improve ourselves in any of these areas, if we have indeed become more selfish and self-centered, more resentful, lazier in our spiritual practices like praying or coming to the church, then its time to wake up and take stock of our lives. We have wasted the gift of time which God has bestowed upon us. We have misused our time to meet our own selfish needs.

The warning given by Jesus in the gospel is something that we must certainly heed. “So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.” Can any one say when his time is up? Does anyone know when your last breath would be? If we fail to make the necessary changes to our lives today, we may live to regret it. Let us not die with regret and resentment in our hearts. Let us prepare ourselves and be ready when the Lord calls us home.

Making a commitment to follow Jesus is making a decision to change one’s lives. Let this be our preparation for this coming Christmas. It is not only our houses that need a spring cleaning, our souls too urgently need spring cleaning. For “you must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

刺成的王冠

基督普世君王节

一般上, 君王的形象对我们来说是怎样的呢? 强大的; 威严的; 坐在宝座上. 君王是使人敬畏的. 君王是不能随便与人接近的.

在今天的福音中, 耶稣基督, 万王之王, 宇宙的主宰却以完全不同的形象出现. 没有威严的御座, 有的是十字架. 戴的是刺冠, 不是宝石镶成的王冠. 没有华丽的衣着却赤裸示人. 不以强者自居却显示谦虚, 软弱及脆弱的意义.不像其他的君王与子民保持距离, 耶稣却邀请我们侍立在十字架旁. 但是, 我们是否准备好了呢? 侍立在十字架旁的意思是分担他的十字架. 如果我们分享他的死亡, 我们也分享他的光荣. 这是耶稣对悔改的右盗的许诺. 如果我们承认耶稣是君王,这许诺也给我们每一个人许下.

接受耶稣为王意谓着我们要接受他的十字架, 王权的象征. 如果我们要成为大的, 我们就该成为最小的. 如果要为首的就该成为最后的. 如果我们要得到永生, 我们就得准备牺牲. 如果我们要在天上储蓄宝藏, 我们就得放弃世上的一切. 基督已为我们立下榜样. 这也一定是为什么教会选择最后的一个主日来庆祝这普世君王节. 身为一位君王, 耶稣将自己成为最小的. 为此, 选择了全年的最后一个主日.

单凭口说, 耶稣基督是我们的君王是容易的,但是我们是否愿意让耶稣来支配我们的生命呢? 为了使天国建立在我们的心中, 我们必须每天死于自私及骄傲. 使耶稣成为我们生命的君王是一个历久的过程. 耶稣不勉强我们. 势力与权力是世俗的. 耶稣以他的爱, 仁慈及宽恕赢得他的子民.

当我们承认耶稣为王时,我们并不成为他的奴隶. 实际上, 是天主使我们重获自由正如圣保禄在读经二中提醒我们: “是他由黑暗的权势下救出了我们, 并将我们移植在他爱子的国内. 我们且在他内得到救赎, 获得了罪赦.”

让我们拥戴耶稣为我们的君王. 最重要的是让他掌控我们的生命使我们能摆脱我们的罪过及骄傲的羁绊. 藉着洗礼, 我们分享了耶稣的君王职. 愿我们通过爱德, 自我牺牲及甘心死于自我来见证这职分.

A Crown made of Thorns

Christ the King – Year C

What is the image that we generally have of a king? Powerful. Majestic. Sitting on a Throne. The king is one who is to be feared. The king cannot be approached by just any person.

In today’s gospel, we have a totally different image of the King of Kings, the Lord of the Universe, Jesus Christ. Instead of a majestic throne, he is placed on the cross. Instead of a crown made of precious jewels, he is wearing a crown made of thorns. Instead of rich and splendid clothing, he presents himself naked for all the world to see. Instead of a powerful figure, he demonstrates what it means to be truly humble, weak and vulnerable. Unlike kings who keep their distance from the common people, Jesus invites us to stand by his cross. But are we ready? To stand by his cross means that we must share in his cross. But if we share in his death, we will also share in his glory. This is the promise of Jesus made to the repentant thief, a promise that is made to each of us who are willing to accept him as king.

To accept Jesus as king would mean that we must also accept his cross, the symbol of his kingship. If we want to be great, then we must become the least. If we want to be first, then we must be last. If we want to have eternal life, then we must be prepared to die. If we want treasures to be laid for us in heaven, we must be prepared to give up everything here on earth. Christ has gone ahead of us and done all this. This must be one of the reasons why the Church has chosen the last Sunday of the Church year to celebrate this feast – Christ the King. As King, Christ makes himself the least of all – thus, the last Sunday of the year.

It is easy to say that Jesus Christ is our king, but are we prepared to do all that is necessary to allow him to rule our lives? In order that the kingdom of God is established in our hearts, we must die to our selfishness and pride each day. Making Jesus our king is a long process. Jesus doesn’t force himself on us. Force and power are ways of the world. Jesus wins over his subjects through love, compassion and forgiveness.

We do not become his slaves when we make Jesus our king. In fact, we are set free by God as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading: “He has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

Let us all acclaim Jesus as our king! But more importantly, let us allow him to take control of our lives so that we may be set free from our sinfulness and our pride. Through baptism, we share in the kingship of Jesus. May we give witness to this through our love, our self-giving and our readiness to die to our self-centeredness.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

今天该听从他的声音...

常年期第三十三主日

话说有一个犹太人向著名的犹太拉比(导师)讨教. 他问拉比: “请告诉我 – 默西亚什么时候会来?” 拉比停了一会儿答说: “今天!” 那犹太人兴奋不已迫不及待跑回家. 他开始偿还债务 – 他欠人的, 他清还; 那些欠他的他豁免. 他变卖一切给穷人. 他向每一位他得罪过的人道歉. 他我这些事情忙碌而忘了时间过得很快. 当他发觉时, 已是晚上时刻了. 于是他等待着. 没有事情发生. 他继续等待直到半夜. 什么事也没发生. 他开始笑自己的愚蠢. 或许, 他误解了拉比的话而鲁莽行事. 然而, 在同一时间, 他心中洋溢着喜乐. 他觉得人生第一次他感到完全的轻松和自由 – 没有债务缠身, 不需肩负不宽恕的重荷, 不需担忧他的资产财富. 在某种程度上, 默西亚已来到他的生命中并改变了一切.

圣咏的作者告诉我们: “今天该听从他的声音, 不要再那样心硬.”

今天的福音, 耶稣告诉我们: “时期近了.” 这并不是说世界将尽及他就要求审判世界. 耶稣只想告诉他的每一位门徒作出人生重要的决定. “今天” 是指做决定的时机. 这决定不能延迟到明天. 这决定不能延迟到我们老的时候. 这决定不能延迟到世界将尽或当我们知道我们快死了.

这决定今天就该做定. 这决定是什么? 这决定就是跟随耶稣和传福音的承诺. 耶稣说过这并不是一个容易做出的决定. 许多人将拒绝嘲笑我们, 世界及现代的社会会说我们愚笨. 甚至我们的家人也反对这决定. 然而, 这决定不可拖延到明天, 后天或下个月或明年. 这决定不可拖延到其他的人有所改变. 这决定要求今天个人的改变, 是你应有所改变. 是我们应有所改变. 我们不可等待别人有所改变.

但是, 我们又从那里找到力量去做出这重大的决定呢? 这就是信和望德了. 信德使我们看到, 虽然决定跟随耶稣. 我们会失去很多, 然而我们会更富有. 我们富裕来自各方面 – 不受罪恶, 烦恼捆绑, 可以高枕无忧心安理得. 在另一方面, 望德使我们认识天主忠实的爱,他决不会在我们困苦中弃我们而不理. 最终, 正义将战胜邪恶,世界将更新.

直到世界更新, 我们需要有所改变. 让我们今天就重新开始. 让我们重新把自己交付给耶稣因为今天他要进入我们的生命里.

If Today you hear his voice ...

Thirty Third Ordinary Sunday Year C

There is a story of a Jewish man who went to seek the advice of a famous Jewish Rabbi. The man asked the Rabbi: - “Please tell me – when will the Messiah come?” The Rabbi paused for a moment and then answered: “Today”. The man was so excited and anxious that he ran home immediately. He began to settle all his debts – those which he owed, he paid back and for those people who owed him money, he canceled their debts. He sold off his wealth and donated it to the poor. He made his rounds apologizing to the people whom he had hurt. He had been so busy doing all these things that he had forgotten that the day had passed so quickly and by the time he was aware of it, it was already evening. And so he waited and waited. Nothing happened. He continued waiting into the middle of the night. And still nothing happened. Then, he began to laugh at his own stupidity. Perhaps, he had misunderstood the words of the Rabbi and had been too rash. At the same time, joy was bubbling out from him. For the first time in his life, he felt absolutely free – free of debts, free of having to carry the burden unforgiveness, free of worrying about his property and wealth. In a way, the Messiah had come into his life and it was now entirely changed.

The Psalmist tells us: “If TODAY you hear his voice, harden not your hearts…”

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that “the time is near at hand.” This does not mean that the world is going to end and that he will come again for the final judgment. Jesus is trying to explain the need for every disciple to make an important decision in their lives. The ‘Today’ refers to the time for making that decision. This decision cannot be delayed till tomorrow. This decision cannot be delayed until we are old. This decision cannot be delayed till the world ends or when we know that we are about to die.

This decision must be made TODAY! And what is this decision. This decision is the commitment to follow Jesus and proclaim the good news of the kingdom. It is not an easy decision, as Jesus himself explains. Many people will reject us and ridicule us. The world and modern society will call us fools. Even our own family members may reject us for this decision. But this decision cannot be delayed till tomorrow or the day after or next month or even next year. This decision cannot be delayed until everyone else changes. The decision calls for personal change today. It is you who must change. It is we who must change. We cannot wait for others to change.

But where do we find the strength to make such a heavy decision? It is faith and hope. Faith allows us to see that although we may seem to lose many things if we decide to follow Jesus, we will still come out the richer. Our riches comes in many forms – freedom from sin and worries, being able to sleep soundly at night with a clear conscience. Hope, on the other hand, allows us to recognize the faithful love of God and that He will not abandon us to our sufferings. At the end, good will triumph over evil and the world will be remade again.

But till the world is remade again, we are the ones who need to change. Let us start from today by making a fresh start. Let us recommit ourselves to Jesus for he is coming into our lives TODAY!

Friday, November 5, 2010

因复活的看法

常年期第三十二主日

要解释痛苦是很难的. 从我们的经历中我们也觉得很难去解释痛苦. 一例如, 当我们所爱的人即使他是一位仁慈的人, 一位好天主教徒却死于癌症; 当我们面对经济问题时, 像失业即使我们每主日都参与弥撒. 许多人认为痛苦是惩罚的结果. 坏人受苦因天主惩罚他们. 好人享受人生因天主祝福他们. 然而很多时候, 事情并不是这样的.

有时候, 好人也受尽苦楚正如读经一中的七兄弟一样. 我们也许会想 – 如果天主真的爱他们的话, 为什么让他们受苦呢? 同样, 当我们生病或面对人生的问题时, 我们常责问天主没有俯允我们的祈祷. 我们不明白为什么我们的祷告尤其是不自私的祈求得不到俯允.

在人类的历史中, 宗教及智学家尽其所能解释痛苦的意义. 有些归痛苦于天主对罪恶的惩罚. 有的解释说是因我们的行为和决定的后果. 有些智学家会解释痛苦只是一种假象. 虽然, 这些解释有些真实性, 我不认为任何宗教或智学能提供完全和值得接受的答案. 原因是痛苦本身就是一个奥秘. 奥秘指向一个更大的真理. 至到我们死, 奥秘仍不能解答.

我们基督徒对痛苦有另一看法 – 因复活的事实,我们明白痛苦. 复活提醒我们死亡并不是一切的终结. 对复活的信心使我们体会到痛苦只是暂时的. 对复活的信心给我们带来希望承受人生的痛, 失望, 创伤和苦楚. 对复活的信心使我们看到天主许下生命不是死亡. 我们可以想象没有复活希望的生活吗? 这样的生活将是难以忍受的尤其是当我们遇到困难的时候. 没有复活的希望了结自己的生命是最容易的解决方法.

不管在生命里我们经历了什么, 不管我们遇到什么困难, 我们生活在复活的希望中. 这希望就是圣保禄在读经二中所提到的: “主是忠信的. 他必坚固你们, 保护你们免于凶恶.” 让我们在这台弥撒中求主赏赐我们圣宠继续信赖天主无微不至的照顾. 复活是耶稣许下生命的途径. 让我们继续信赖天主因 “他不是死人的, 而是活人的天主; 所有的人为他都是生活的.”

In the light of the Resurrection

Thirty Second Ordinary Sunday Year C

Trying to explain the meaning of suffering is very difficult. From our own experiences, we too find it hard to explain the suffering – for example, when someone we love dies of cancer even though he/she may have been a loving person and a good Catholic; when some of us face financial difficulties, like losing a job, even though we come to mass every Sunday. Many people often think that suffering is the result of punishment. Bad people suffer because they are being punished by God. Good people enjoy life because they are being blessed by God. But very often, it just doesn’t happen this way.

Sometimes, the good people also suffer terribly like the seven brothers in today’s first reading. Some of us may be thinking – if God truly loves them, why does he allow them to suffer. Similarly, when we become sick or face some problem in life, we often question God’s failure to answer our prayers. We cannot understand the reason why our prayers are not answered especially when they are not selfish prayers.

Throughout the history of man, religions and philosophies have been trying to explain the meaning of suffering. Some attribute suffering to God’s punishment for sin. Others explain it as the consequence of our actions and decisions. Some philosophies will try to explain suffering as unreal and a figment of our imagination. Although, each of these explanations has some truth, I do not think that any religion or philosophy has been able to provide us with a complete and acceptable answer. The reason for this is that suffering is itself a mystery. Mysteries have a way of pointing us to some greater truth. But till the day we die, mysteries will remain unsolved.

We, Christians, have another way of understanding suffering – we understand it in the light of the resurrection. The resurrection reminds us that death is not the end of everything. Faith in the resurrection allows us to see our sufferings as only temporary. Faith in the resurrection gives us hope in order to bear the pains, disappointments, hurts, and sufferings which we experience throughout life. Faith in the resurrection allows us to see that God promises us life and not death. Can we try to imagine living a life without faith in the resurrection? Such a life would be unbearable especially when we encounter problems and difficulties. Without believing in the resurrection, taking our own lives (killing ourselves) would be the easiest solution.

In spite of whatever we experience in this life, in spite of all the difficulties we may encounter, we live with the hope of the resurrection. This hope is what St. Paul is speaking about in the second reading: “the Lord is faithful, and he will give you strength and guard you from the evil one.” Let us in this mass pray for the grace to continue trusting in the loving care of God. The resurrection is Jesus’ way of promising life and not death. Let us continue to place our hope in God for “he is God, not of the dead, but of the living, for to him all men are in fact alive.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

今天救恩临到了这一家

常年三十一主日

我们许多人感到很渺小 – 我们觉得我们是罪人, 不堪当天主的爱及眷顾. 为此, 我们继续过着我们的生活好象天主不存在似的. 我们知道天主存在, 但只是在星期天罢了. 而整个星期内, 我们需要工作, 自己做一切事情好象天主从不帮助我们. 我们尽量获取财富并使自己感到重要以补偿我们脆弱的自尊. 这就是在今天福音中匝凯还没遇见耶稣之前的写照. 匝凯是一个税吏, 是一位罗马官员, 是犹太人眼中的仇人及罪人. 而匝凯肯定感到很孤单, 但, 他的财富及权势给了他些许安慰. 福音形容他是个子矮小的人.因嫌弃自己的矮小也介意别人对他的看法而感到自卑.

匝凯爬上野桑树为了看耶稣. 他认为爬到树上可以高高在上. 我们有时候也这样做. 因为我们感到没有安全感. 我们尝试夸耀自己或取笑别人显示自己的优越. 像匝凯一样使自己与别人疏远. 别人开始避开我们因为没有人喜欢吹牛的人.

看来人人都闪避匝凯, 耶稣却注意到他. 耶稣从人群中认出他并请他从树上下来. 耶稣重新使他归回到团体. 我们是群居的. 身为基督徒, 我们不能忘记我们团体的特性 – 耶稣要我们互爱 共融相处而不是自私自利, 自我中心独处. 耶稣的爱改变了匝凯. 对匝凯来说, 有生以来头一遭, 有人赏识他并不因他的地位财势而是出自真爱和关怀.

我们常在主日听到天主爱我们的信息. 耶稣爱我们并不是因我们的财富或是我们的成就或是我们的圣德或是我们在社会的地位. 不管我们是谁耶稣爱我们. 耶稣知道我们的优点, 我们的美善即使我们自己不察觉. 在读经一中, 我们读到天主怎样爱一切所有, 不恨他所造的. 这位作者写到, 如果天主憎恨什么, 他必不会造它. 天主不制造垃圾. 天主从不犯错.

我们许多人对自己所做的错事而感到羞耻. 有些甚至恼恨自己. 的确我们是罪人. 我们一生中,犯很多错也不断地犯错. 我们也的确不堪为领受天主的怜悯. 但天主仍爱着我们. 那就是天主的爱及怜悯, 在我们还是罪人时派遣他唯一圣子为我们而死. 那就是我们在天主眼中的真正价值. 如果我们能认清世上没有任何事可以改变天主对我们的爱, 我们就能体验天主的救恩. 天主从不拒绝赐给我们他的救恩. 反之, 是我们自己,把救恩,有所保留,拒绝去承认天主对我们的爱. 唯有在我们相信天主以个人方式爱我们时, 皈依才发生作用.

今天, 在弥撒中, 我们听到耶稣个别对我们说: “今天救恩临到了这一家 – 因为人子来, 是为寻找及拯救迷失的人.”

Today salvation has come to this house

Thirty First Ordinary Sunday Year C

Many of us feel very small – we feel that we are sinners and that we are unworthy of God’s love or attention. And so we continue to live our lives as if God does not exist. We know God exist, but he only comes out on Sunday. Throughout the whole week, we have to work and do things all by ourselves as if God isn’t there to help us. We try to acquire riches and make ourselves feel important to compensate for our low self-esteem. This was the life of Zaccheus in today’s gospel before he met Jesus. He was a tax-collector, an officer of the Roman government and thus seen as an enemy and a sinner to all Jews. Zaccheus must have really felt all alone, but to him, his wealth and his power gave him some consolation. The gospel describes him as a short man. He could have been physically short but quite likely he felt small too in terms of how he saw himself or how he thought others saw him.

Zaccheus climbed the sycamore tree to have a better look at Jesus. By climbing the tree, he thought that he could raise himself to a position that was higher than the others. We also do that sometimes. Because, we feel insecure, we try to boast or make fun of others in order to make ourselves bigger than we truly are. But like Zaccheus, this only alienates us from others. People begin to avoid us because no one likes a braggart.

Although everyone seems to ignore Zaccheus, Jesus notices him. Jesus picks him out from the crowd and invites him to come down from the tree. Jesus reintroduces him to the community. We are created as social beings. As Christians, we must never forget our communal identity – Jesus wants us to live with each in love and peace and not as selfish and self-centered individuals. The love of Christ brings about the conversion of Zaccheus. For the first time in his life, someone takes notice of Zaccheus not because of his position or because of his wealth, but because of pure love and compassion.

This is the good news that we hear every Sunday. God loves us. Jesus loves us not because of our wealth, or our achievements, or our holiness or status in society. Jesus loves us for who we are. Jesus recognizes our goodness and our beauty even when we are unable to see it within ourselves. In the first reading, we have heard of how God loves all that exists, and holds nothing that he has made in abhorrence. For as the writer writes, if God had hated anything, He would not have formed it. God does not make rubbish. God doesn’t make mistakes.

Some of us may be ashamed of bad things that we have done in life and some have even grown to hate themselves. It is true that we are sinners. It is true that we have made many mistakes in life and we continue to make mistakes. It is true that we are not worthy to receive God’s compassion. But God loves us nevertheless. That is the love and compassion of God who is prepared to send his only Son to die for us while we were still sinners. That is our true value in the eyes of God. If we can come to recognize this – that we are loved by God and that nothing we do, no mistakes that we make, no sin that we commit, is going to change the love of God for us – then we will truly be able to experience the salvation of God. God does not withhold salvation from us. It is we who withhold salvation from ourselves by failing to recognize God’s love for us. Only when we come to believe that we are loved by God in a personal way, will conversion take place.

Today, during this Mass, we hear the voice of Jesus speaking to each of us personally: “Today salvation has come to this house … for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Humility is boasting of God's blessings

Thirtieth Ordinary Sunday Year C

One of the sins we find hardest to confess is the sin of pride? We are ready to confess our other sins- anger, unforgiveness, lying, beating our children, scolding others – but find it hard to confess our pride. Pride has a way of hiding itself. We hide many things from others because we think that if they came to know about it, they would no longer respect us or like us. That’s pride. Pride means that we do not want to lose face. So we lie, we exaggerate, we make fun of others, we become jealous of others, we criticize others.

I think that many of us would not want to pray like the Pharisee in today’s gospel. So we often criticize our own achievements and try to humble ourselves before others. We will say things like: “No, I’m not clever. Actually I am very stupid.” Or when others praise us, we will try and say things like: “no it was just luck.” We try to be polite. When we serve food that we have cooked to others, we will often say that it is common and simple food although we may have spent the whole morning and afternoon trying to make the most delicious dish to impress our friends. Very often our own self-criticism is an attempt at soliciting greater praises from others. Rather than true humility, every time when we brush off a compliment from someone else, it is an indication of our pride. We actually want them to praise us more.

What is true humility? It isn’t self-criticism, as I had explained. True humility is the ability to recognize both my weaknesses and my strengths. True humility is about knowing oneself. True humility is recognizing that we are nothing without God and that all that we have received comes from God alone. When we criticize ourselves we are criticizing God –we are saying that He has made a mistake with us. That’s not humility but pride! A truly humble person is able to receive compliments and recognize his own strength because he knows that this is a gift from God.

In the second reading, St. Paul appears to be boasting about himself when he says: “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith …” But St. Paul is not blowing his own trumpet. He is actually giving praise to God. He knows that he would not be able to do it alone. He knows that he is able to do all these things only with the power of God. If we read the second part of the second reading, we will see this. He writes: “But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear … The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever.”

That’s true humility. To be able to speak of all the blessings that we have received from God and give him glory. We are not praising our own achievements when we speak of them. We are not boasting when we speak about how God has blessed us. Rather, it is God who is praised and glorified. Without God nothing is possible. We need to give testimony to God’s blessings. False humility hides the glory of God. False humility is actually pride that seeks praises for oneself.

In today’s mass, let us echo the voice of tax collector who recognized his sinfulness and limitations but yet recognized the mercy and power of God to forgive him his sins. For the Lord will indeed listen to the prayer of the truly humble man.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

祈祷 - 放慢的招术

常年期二十九主日

什么时候是最合适的呢? 对我们许多人, 现时是最佳时刻. 毫无等待可言. 我们期待事情即时发生. 不是明天, 不是下个月, 不是明年而是现在! 因此, 我们讨厌等待. 我们对特别人, 自己, 天主没有耐心. 我们自问: “我们为什么要等? 为什么它不能现在就发生呢?”今日的社会要求快速的电脑, 更快速的网路, 更快速的交通工具, 快餐, 速成教育课程 – 快, 快!! 在5到10年前所习惯的一切可能已经不够了. 物质被淘汰的如此惊人.

或许, 我们已经忘了什么叫做等待, 什么叫做浪费时间, 什么叫做与你所爱的人相处 - 与朋友, 与天主共度时光. 我们必须重心学习放慢的招术. 祈祷时, 我们被迫放慢速度. 没有快速简单的祈祷. 祈祷常需要时间因为交谈需要时间.

今天的读经教导我们关于祈祷及坚忍. 在祈祷生活中我们必须学习忍耐. 我们必须继续祈祷纵使我们对等待天主的俯允感到厌倦. 原因很简单: 没有祈祷, 放弃将是最容易不过的事. 在面对难题, 失望,挫折我们有足够的理由放弃.

祈祷支撑我们的信德. 信德带来希望. 信德带来的希望允许我们信赖天主相信天主永不会放弃我们. 天主必会在他适当的时刻, 方式俯允我们. 祈祷允许我们珍惜与天主及别人共处的时光.它不断地提醒我们不该掌控我们的生命. 在样样讲求快速的世界里 – 快餐, 快速电脑, 工厂的快速生产行列, 我们肯定在这些事务中失去控制我们的生命. 我们成为这类似生活的奴隶. 祈祷允许我们重新控制我们的生活也让天主掌控我们的生活. 只有在天主内, 我们才可找到真正的自由.

你们当中, 或许有人想放弃, 像读经一中的梅瑟, 你们或许觉得举起双手祈祷很累 - 悔心祈祷 – 而想休息一会儿. 你们或者经历了长期的考验, 困难, 焦虑而感到祈祷并没有结果及在生命里也没什么分别. 但是, 今天的福音告诉你: “不要灰心, 静心等待, 天主必会来! 你可能不能看到或预料未来将发生的事. 明天或许与今天没两样, 但你的忍耐及坚持将得到赏报. 天主必会俯允我们. 但在他指定的时刻及方式.

我们很快就要接近年终了. 我们是否有抽空与我们的家人及所爱的人共度时光呢? 或者我们忙于许多生活上的琐事没有时间给我们的家人, 朋友或天主. 在这台弥撒中, 让我们求天主赏赐我们缓慢下来的能力, 使我们会珍惜重要的一切.

Prayer - the Art of Slowing Down

Twenty Ninth Ordinary Sunday Year C

What time is the most suitable time? For many of us, the present time is the best time. No point waiting. We want things to happen now. Not tomorrow. Not next month. Not next year. No. Now! And so we hate to wait. We become impatient with others. We become impatient with ourselves. We become impatient with God. We ask ourselves: “Why must we wait? Why can’t it happen now?”

Today’s society demands for faster computers, faster internet, faster modes of transportation, fast food, short educational courses – Fast, Fast. What we may have been used to 5 or 10 years ago is not enough. Things become obsolete at a frightening pace.

Perhaps, we have forgotten what it means to wait, to waste time, to spend time with the people we love – to spend time with our friends – to spend time with God. We must relearn the art of slowing down. In prayer, we are forced to slow down. There is no quick or easy prayer. Prayer always requires time because conversion requires time.

Today’s readings teach us about prayer and perseverance. We must learn patience from our prayer life. We must continue praying even when we become tired of waiting for an answer from God. The reason for this is very simple: without prayer, giving up will be extremely easy. In the face of problems, disappointments and set-backs, we have more than enough reason to call it quits.

Prayer sustains our faith and faith brings hope. The hope that comes from faith allows us to trust God and believe that he will not abandon us. He will answer us in his own time and in his own way. Prayer allows us to cherish the time we have with God and with others. It reminds us again and again that we are not in control of our lives. In a world of fast food, fast computers, fast production lines in the factories, we have certainly lost control of our lives to all these things. We have become slaves to this way of life. Prayer allows us to take back control over our lives and to allow God to take control of our lives. Only in God can we find true freedom.

Some of you today may feel like giving up. Like Moses in the first reading, some of you may feel so tired with holding your hands up in prayer – persevering in prayer – and you feel that you just want to take a break. Some of you may be experiencing trials, problems, worries for so long that you feel that praying is useless and does not make any difference in your life. But the message of the gospel for you today is: Be patient! Wait for the Lord, for the Lord will come indeed! You may not be able to see or predict what’s going to happen in the future. Tomorrow may appear to be the same as today. But your patience and perseverance will be rewarded. God will surely answer us, but in his own time and in his own way.

We are fast approaching the end of the year. Have we taken time to be with our family and loved ones? Or have we been so busy with so many things in our life that there is no longer time for family, friends or God? During this Mass, let us pray for the ability to be able to slow down so that we can cherish the things that truly matter.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

对天主的感恩

常年期第二十八主日

我相信你们都知道渔夫与他的妻子的童话故事罢. 这是一则有关一个穷渔夫与他那贪得无厌的妻子的故事. 有一天, 穷渔夫出去捕鱼. 从早到晚一无所获.最后, 正打算收网回家时, 他网到了一条大鱼. 使他惊讶的是这条大鱼竟会说话并告诉渔夫说他是海王的王子. 他要求渔夫放过他,并答应给以一切所求. 渔夫因是个仁慈怜悯的人, 没有要求什么就放了大鱼回海里去了. 他回家后, 告诉了他的妻子. 他的妻子对他大发雷霆责骂他的愚蠢. 他的妻子要他即刻回去要求大鱼给他们一栋大房子因为他们所住的是一间摇摇欲坠的破木屋. 很不情愿地渔夫会到海边向大鱼要求. 大鱼很乐意地答应了.渔夫回家时看到了他原有的木屋已变成了一栋大房屋还有许多工人. 他的妻子很满意. 可是第二天, 贪得无厌的妻子却吵她的丈夫去向大鱼要更大的回报. 这次, 她要做公爵. 像第一次一样, 很快又厌倦了而要更大的要求. 从公爵, 她要成为国王, 帝王, 教皇. 当她成为教皇时, 渔夫以为她的妻子该会满足了. 然而, 第二天早晨, 她叫醒渔夫, 告诉他说她已控制了全世界但却没能控制太阳的起落及宇宙辰星的运行. 除非她成为天主, 她永不会满足. 为此, 渔夫又回到海边找那条有求必应的大鱼. 这时,天布满了黑云, 刮起了狂风, 海中巨浪翻滚. 大鱼现身. 渔夫于是提出了他最后的要求. 大鱼回答说: “既然, 你的妻子对我所赐与的一切都不满意, 我就全给拿掉.” 大鱼跟着消失了再也见不到了. 渔夫回家发现他原来的妻子及那破烂不堪的木屋即知道一切已被拿回.

有的人的确永不会满足. 他们总会找些东西来抱怨. 当他们所要求的被应许时, 他们会常寻求其他更好的. 这辆车不够大. 这部电脑不是最新的. 基基团的组长不够好. 我的媳妇或女婿不够理想. 或者那神父不够好. 也许, 我们所缺少的是鉴赏, 感恩的精神. 我们重视我们的福份吗? 我们常感谢天主所赏赐的一切吗? 我们有感谢我们的父母, 我们的孩子或其他的人以表心意吗? 也许, 我们只想到自己或专找事埋怨.

今天的福音及读经一中, 我们得知两位非犹太人表达他们对天主的感恩. 第一读经,我们有叙利亚人的纳阿曼及福音中的撒玛黎雅癞病人. 其余的九个癞病人呢? 他们也同样只顾自己. 他们把耶稣恩赐的恩惠认为他们应得的. 我们是否也一样对别人如此呢? 我们可有常记得说 “谢谢” 这两个字呢?

弥撒的意思是感恩圣祭. 今天让我们化点时间点算我们所得到的恩赐. 让我们为我们的家人和朋友感谢天主. 让我们为自己生命及这团体的成员二感恩. 也感谢天主为我们赐下他的圣子耶稣. 正如圣保禄提醒我们说: “如果我们不忠信, 他仍然忠信的, 因为他不能否 认自己.” 感谢天主!

Expressing our Gratitude

Twenty Eighth Ordinary Sunday Year C

I’m sure that most of you know the children’s story of the fisherman and his wife. It is the story of a poor fisherman who lived with a wife who was never satisfied. One day, as the poor fisherman went fishing, he caught nothing till the evening. Finally, when he was ready to go home, a large fish was caught in his net. To his surprise, the fish could talk and told him that he was a prince and a son to the King of the Seas. He begged the fisherman to release him and in return he would grant any wish which the fisherman would make of him. The fisherman, being a kindly and compassionate man, released the fish without making any request. He returned home and narrated the whole story to his wife. His wife was furious and scolded him for his stupidity. She told him to go back that very instance and demand for a larger house because they both were living in an old ramshackle hut made of wood. The fisherman reluctantly went back to the fish and made the request. The fish willingly granted the request and the fisherman returned home to find in place of his old hut, a large mansion with many servants. The wife was satisfied for one night. But the following morning, the greedy wife harassed her husband to return to fish and ask for a greater gift. This time she wanted to be a duke. When the gift was granted, like the first time, she was only satisfied for a little while and began to make greater request. From a duke, she became a king, from a king she became an emperor, from an emperor she became the Pope. When she was the Pope, the poor fisherman thought that she would now be finally satisfied. But, no! The following morning, she woke the fisherman and told him that she now controlled the whole world but she was still not able to control the rising and the setting of the sun and the movement of the stars in heaven. She would not be satisfied until she became God. And so the poor fisherman returned to the beach in search for the magic fish. Now the clouds were dark and stormy and there were large waves in the sea. When the fish finally appeared, the fisherman made this last request. The fish answered: ‘Since your wife has never been satisfied with any of the earlier gifts which I had given her, I will take it all away.” With that the fish disappeared and was never seen again. The fisherman went home and discovered his wife in their old ramshackle hut and realized that all had been taken away.

Some people are never really satisfied. They will always find something to complain about. When their requests are met, they will always look for better things. The car isn’t big enough. The computer isn’t the newest. The BEC leaders are not good enough. My daughter-in-law or my son-in-law is not good enough. Or the priest isn’t good enough. Perhaps, what we truly lack is the spirit of appreciation and thanksgiving. How often do we really count our blessings? How often do we thank God for the many blessings and good things that we have received in life? How often have we thanked our father or our mother or our son or daughter or someone else and expressed our appreciation to them? Or are we only thinking about ourselves or looking for things to complain about.

In today’s gospel and in the first reading, we find two non-Jews expressing their gratitude to God – in the first reading we have the Syrian general, Namaan and in the gospel we have the Samaritan leper. What happened to the other 9 lepers who came to Jesus for healing? They were too preoccupied with themselves. They took Jesus and the gift which he had bestowed upon them for granted. Do we also take others for granted? Do we bother to say these two simple words – Thank you?

Eucharist means thanksgiving. Let us today take some time to count our blessings. Let us thank God for our family members and friends. Let us thank God for our lives and the members of this community. Let us thank God for giving us his Son Jesus. As St. Paul reminds us: “We may be unfaithful, but he is always faithful, for he cannot disown his own self.” Thanks be to God.

Friday, October 1, 2010

如芥子般的信德

常年二十七主日

当我们环顾世界四周, 我们常想到世界及人们疯了.残杀不只在战场发生也祸及无辜孩童; 家庭暴力;虐待女佣; 强奸; 贪污; 破坏. 我们可以认同先知哈巴谷对当时社会的陈诉: “在我面前, 只有迫害和残暴, 争吵不休, 辩论迭起.” 这世界充满邪恶, 怪不得那么多人沮丧成疾.

或者对我们来说较关切的问题该是: “在这疯狂的世界, 我如何可以找到人生的意义呢?” 哲学家历年来曾想尽办法为我们解答这问题但仍没有满意的答案. 很明显的, 答案不在于人的解答方法. 为了应付那超出我们的控制范围,超出我们所理解的 “邪恶” – 我们必须寻找那超出人所能理解的答案.

今天的读经谈及信德 – 信德使我们看到纵然邪恶和残暴看来遍布各处, 但天主仍常控一切; 当我们迷失时, 信德指示方向; 当我们面对人生无数的问题时, 信德帮助我们坚持到底. 处在今时今日的世界, 若要生存, 我们更需要信德甚于任何东西.

耶稣告诉我们如果我们有”如芥子般的信德” 我们可以拔根移山. 我们要如何理解这一点呢? 首先, 耶稣并没有着重在信德的神力. 有人以为只要我们有信德, 所有的疾病, 甚至绝症都能不药而愈. 如果当他们看不到效果时, 他们的结论是他们缺乏信德或开始抱怨天主不俯允他们的祈祷. 这是对信德的错误了解. 类似的误解使信德当着奇迹的管道而天主也变成受薪的执行者.

真正的信德是建基于信赖的关系上. 信德是当我们相信天主会掌管一切并不容许我们受到任何伤害. 信德是让天主做天主. 让天主掌管我们的生命及处境而不是要天主随我们的意愿解决我们的问题. 这样, 我们才能明白, 为什么耶稣用极小的芥子作比喻. 信德, 就有如我们对解决问题的贡献像芥子般小. 我们只管求, 然后静静地让天主处理一切. 如果我们说我们有 “信德”, 我们就该让天主随心所欲地为我们及世界安排. 问题是我们常认为我们应该做更大的角色 - 我们要做那能移山的,而不是让天主来做.

在今天的弥撒中, 让我们求天主赏赐圣宠好能以信德的眼光看世界. 让我们也向宗徒们看齐求天主说: “请增加我们的信德吧!”

Faith the size of a mustard seed

Twenty Seventh Ordinary Sunday Year C

When we look at the world around us, we often think that the world and its people have gone crazy! Killing not only in the war fields but also innocent children; domestic violence; ill treatment of maids; rape, corruption, destruction. We can identify with the sentiments of the prophet Habakkuk when he made this statement about the society of his time: “Outrage and violence, this is all I see, all is contention, and discord flourishes.” With so much evil in the world, its no wonder that so many people suffer from depression.

Perhaps the more important question that concerns us is this: “How can I find meaning in life in the midst of so much madness?” Philosophers have been trying to provide solutions to this question over the centuries but there is no satisfactory answer. It is clear that the answer does not lie with a human solution. In order to deal with an ‘evil’ that is beyond our control, an ‘evil’ that is beyond our understanding - we must seek for answers that lies beyond mere human understanding.

Today’s reading speaks of faith – a faith that enables us to see how God remains in control although evil and violence seems all pervasive, a faith that gives direction when we are lost; a faith that helps us to persevere even when faced with the many problems of life. In today’s world, we need faith more than ever if we are to survive.

Jesus tells us that if we were to have faith “the size of a mustard seed” we could uproot trees and in fact, move mountains. How do we understand this? First of all, Jesus is not focusing on the miraculous power of faith. Some people think that if we have faith, all kinds of illnesses, even the terminal ones, can be physically healed. The conclusion they often make when they don’t see the results of healing is that they lack faith or they may begin to blame God for not answering their prayers. This is a wrong understanding of faith. This kind of understanding makes ‘faith’ a kind of ticket for miracles and reduces God to a paid performer.

True faith is really based on a relationship of trust. Faith is when we believe God will take care of all things and ultimately not allow us to come to any harm. Faith is allowing God to be God, allowing God to take control of our lives and the situation without dictating to him how we want him to solve our problems. In this sense, we can then understand why Jesus uses the metaphor of the ‘mustard seed’, a tiny seed. Faith, our contribution to the solution of the problem is like that tiny seed. We just need to ask, sit back and allow God to do the rest. If we say that we have ‘faith’ then we must be prepared to allow God a free hand to do what he thinks will be the best for us and for the world. The problem is that we often feel we must take a greater role – we want to be ones that can move mountains rather than allowing God to do this.

In today’s mass, let us ask God for the grace to be able to see the world through the eyes of faith. Let us echo the words of the disciple and ask this of God: “Increase our faith.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

漠不关心的罪过

常年期第二十六主日

在今天的福音中, 我们听到有关拉匝禄和富家人的比喻. 这是一个简单易懂的比喻. 可怜的拉匝禄死后上了天堂而富家人却到了地狱里. 为什么呢? 是不是因为拉匝禄贫穷那富家人富裕? 如果是这样的话, 我们许多人将下地狱了; 因为我们过着很舒适的生活!

那富家人的罪不是他的财富. 也都不是因为他是无情自私. 故事没有告诉我们那富家人曾毒打过拉匝禄或打发他的狗咬伤他. 这不是富家人去地狱的原因. 漠不关心才是他的罪过 – 他不理会拉匝禄的遭遇, 他漠视四周的一切, 除了自己外他不理会任何人. 当他学到关心别人时, 他自己的兄弟时已太迟了. 而实事上, 当他活着时, 这富家人不曾真正关心过他的兄弟. 这富家人甚至与狗做了个比较. 连狗也注意到了拉匝禄及他的状况而那富家人仍然对他的同胞漠然不顾.

我们很多人认为只要我们少管闲事, 不干预别人的事, 避免我们华人所认为的三大罪状 – 放火, 杀人, 强奸 – 我们就可安枕无忧地赚得天堂. 今天的福音中的比喻可震撼我们少理的态度. 说实在的, 自满, 漠不关心是我们社会的病态之一. 基本上, 这也是以色列人在亡国之前的态度. 冷漠使他们对贫穷不辛的呼声充耳不闻; 对以色列内所发生的不以视而不见. 今时今日, 很多人也选择做聋盲的人. 我们佯装一切美的只要我们的生活和我们的家庭生活不受到影响.

圣保禄在读经二中提醒第茂德只避免重罪及自顾自理是不够的. 圣保禄提醒我们: “成为天主的人, 要追求正义, 虔敬, 信德, 爱德, 坚忍和良善.” 只做普通的教友是不够的. 实际上, 并没有普通教友这回事. 我们每一个人都蒙召成圣成义.

我们不应满足于只做最少. 我们也不应该只满足于只顾自己而忽略别人. 我们不该对别人的需要反应冷漠. 不然我们的命运就有如今天福音中的富家人一样. 在今天的福音中, 让我们祈求天主赏赐圣宠以耶稣宽仁的心自觉察我们兄弟姐妹的需要.

The Sin of Indifference

Twenty Sixth Ordinary Sunday Year C

In today’s gospel, we hear of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. It is a simple parable that is often misunderstood. Lazarus, the poor man, goes to heaven while the rich man goes to hell. Why? Was it because Lazarus was poor and the rich man was rich? If that is the case, many of us here would be going to hell because we are living comfortable lives.

The sin of the rich man was not his wealth. Neither was it because he was a cruel and selfish man. The story does not tell us that the rich man had Lazarus beaten or that he had send his dogs to bite him. This was not the reason why the rich man went to hell. The sin of the rich man was his indifference – he didn’t care what happened to Lazarus, he didn’t care about what was happening around him, he didn’t care about anyone else except himself. By the time he learnt to care for someone, in this case it was his brothers, it was too late. In fact, while he was still alive, the rich man didn’t really care about what happened to his brothers. A comparison is even made between the dogs and this rich man. Even the dogs took notice of Lazarus and his condition, while the rich man remained indifferent to his fellow human.

Many of us think that if we mind our own business and do not poke our noses into other peoples business – and if we avoided what Chinese would consider the three major sins: arson, murder and rape – we should be fine and should at least earn a place in heaven. Today’s gospel parable should shake us up from this minimalistic way of thinking (i.e. do only the minimum – why do more?). In fact, complacency/ indifference is one of the greatest ills of our society. This was basically the attitude of the Israelites before their country was destroyed. Indifference made them deaf to the cries of the poor and blind and blind to the injustices that was happening in Israel. Today, many people also choose to be deaf and blind. We pretend that everything is fine as long as our lives and our family life is not affected.

St. Paul reminds Timothy in the second reading that it is not enough to just avoid major sins and take care of one’s own affairs. He reminds us that “as a man dedicated to God, you must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle.” It is not enough to be mediocre. In fact, there is no such thing as a mediocre Christian. Each of us is called to saintliness and holiness.

We must not be satisfied with doing just the minimum. We must not be satisfied with only taking care of our own affairs while not caring about what happens to everyone else. We must not remain insensitive to needs of others. If not, our fate will be like that of the rich man in today’s gospel. In today’s mass, let us pray for the grace to be able to see with the eyes and hear with the ears of compassion – to be able recognize, as Jesus did, our brother and sister who is in need.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

你们不能事奉两个主人

常年期第二十五主日

“你们不能事奉两个主人。”没有人愿意做另一人的奴隶。没有人喜欢被命令做事,我们珍惜我们的自由。我们珍惜选择要做什么的能力。遗憾地,许多人的确自甘做奴隶被困着而不能随心所欲。

天主从不强迫我们。不过,有许多人遵守诫命只因他们害怕得罪天主而受罚。然而,天主从不强逼我们。天主明了为使我们做他的仆人,为使我们完全依赖信靠他,我们应该心甘情愿地做。

另一方面,每当我们除了天主之外而只信靠其他的人或事物时,我们就开始放纵于这些事物上。我们也成为这些假神的奴隶。这些假神就开始掌控我们的生命并取走我们想做,该做的自由。

我们不能同时事奉天主和假神。事奉天主应是自由的。事奉其他的假神意谓着将失去这自由。自由与不自由是不能同时发生的。我们必须记住我们被造是为认识,爱慕及事奉天主。十诫的第一条:“我是上主,你的天主。除我之外,你不可有别的神。”在忘了天主的当儿,我们也许为其他的神留下许多空间。偶像不一定是其他宗教的神明。往往,我们的偶像是那些我们寄望和依赖的事物。这些偶像给我们虚假的安全感。这些偶像许下我们以为天主不能赐于的财富,保护和祝福。

许多人说在他们生命初期,他们着重于建立自己的事业而在后期才意识到与天主建立关系的重要。这看来,在活现第一条诫命:爱天主在万有之上及不应有别的神的信仰旅程占据了人大部分的生活。在建立宗教的王国时有着极大的满足感直到不再感到满足时才知觉,只有建立天主的国才能使我们满足。换句话说,生活的乐趣可以引开我们活出天主子女的身份。生活的乐趣逐渐取代我们内在的自由。我们变成了世俗的奴隶。

除了财富,许多人常求助于超自然力量。当我们遇到困难时,我们常去找灵媒或巫师来解决问题。有人指望于水晶以及化费大笔金钱来调整家中的风水和他们的运程。更有一些人相信诵念某些经文,就会有奇迹出现。祈祷成了魔术而不是信赖天主的照顾。

因此,在这台弥撒中,让我们祈求全心全灵,全意,全力认识,爱慕,事奉上主之恩;因为没有人可以同时事奉两个主人。今天的读经二提醒我们:“因为天主只有一个,在天主与人之间的中保也只有一个;就是降生成人的基督耶稣,他奉献了自己,为众人作赎价。”让我们抛弃所有的假神并重新信赖天主为重获自由成为名副其实的天主子女。

You can't serve two Masters

Twenty Fifth Ordinary Sunday Year C

‘You cannot be the slave of two masters’. No one wants to be a slave of another. No one wants to be told what to do. We value our freedom. We value our ability to choose to do what we want to do. Unfortunately, many people indeed become slaves of one thing or another. We become trapped or addicted to the thing that we want to be free of.

God never forces his ways on us. Nevertheless, many people still follow the commandments only because they are afraid of God’s displeasure and punishment. But God never forces his way on us. God understands that in order for us to be his servant, in order for us to put our entire trust and faith in him, we must do it freely without compulsion.

On the other hand, whenever we begin to place our trusts in other things or persons apart from God, we soon see ourselves loosing our freedom to these things. We truly become slaves to these false gods. They begin to take control of our lives and take away our freedom to do the things that we really want to do or need to do.

We cannot serve God and false gods at the same time. To serve God is to be truly free. To serve other false gods would mean losing this freedom. We cannot be free and not be free at the same time. We must remember that we were created to know, love and serve God. The first commandment is ‘I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me’. While not forgetting God, we might also still make room for strange gods. Idols need not only be in the form of the gods of other religions. Very often, our idols are the things, objects, persons, situations, activities that we place our hope and our trust in. These idols give us a sense of false security. These idols promise us riches, protection, and blessings which we believe God will not be able to do so.

Many people say that they place a lot of emphasis on career development in their early years and it is only later in life that they become aware of the value and importance of friendship with God. It seems that the journey to authentically live the first commandment to love God above all else and have no strange gods, is a life long experience for most persons. There is momentary satisfaction in building up our own kingdom until even this particular activity doesn’t seem to satisfy us any more. It is then that we come to realize that what truly satisfies us is building up God’s kingdom. In other words, the attractions of life can draw us away from living as sons and daughters of God. The attractions of life slowly take away our inner freedom. We become slaves to them.

Apart from riches, many people often rely on the supernatural for assistance. When we are in trouble, we often seek the help of mediums and bomohs. Others rely on crystals and pay lots of money to adjust the fengshui of their house and consequently their luck. Still others, depend on certain prayers thinking that if these were recited fervently and repeatedly, miracles will take place. Prayer becomes magic rather than trusting in God’s providence.

So in this Mass we pray for the strength to know, love and serve God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength because no one can be the slave of two masters. We are reminded in today’s second reading: “For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all.” Let us cast off all our false gods and begin to place our trust in God, so that we may regain our freedom to become sons and daughters of God.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

我们是尊贵的

常年期第二十四主日

当你爱一个人时, 你会做疯狂的事. 一位母亲会牺牲一切为照顾她嗜酒及吸毒, 拒绝她的儿子. 一位神父会为了服务麻风病人而冒被感染的风险. 一位父亲会不顾生命的安危跳入池中为救他的儿子. 这些人看来好象是疯了; 的确, 爱使人做胡涂疯狂的事.

今天的福音讲述了胡涂的故事. 一个牧羊人丢下九十九只羊而去寻找那遗失的一只. 一个妇女忘了其他的九个 “达玛”(犹太人的钱) 细心寻找那遗失的一个 “达玛”. 世俗会说: “接受你的损失; 以现有的继续做不去罢! 然而天主的做法与我们的做法不同. 天主爱人是无止境的. 天主会竭尽全力, 屈尊就卑, 忍耐痛苦为寻找罪人 – 那拒绝他的人, 那说不需要天主的人, 那不理会一切只顾自己的人. 我们人, 会想, 最好的做法是让这些人继续他们所做的而我们也继续过我们的生活.

但是天主从不放弃纵使我们选择放弃. 天主从不停止工作即使我们已完全停止努力. 在我们认为不可能爱的情 况下天主仍从不停止爱. 这就是我们的天主 – 圣仁圣慈的天主.
这又告诉我们些什么呢? 我们每一个人都是重要的. 我们每一个人都有特别的尊严. 我们每一个人是独一无二的. 我们每一个人是无价之宝及值得救赎的. 我们并不是天堂大量创造的无名物体. 这就是今天福音中的比喻的含意. 那牧羊人并不担心做出错误的决定 – 放弃九十九羊而去寻找那遗失的一只. 这是因为对他来说, 每一只羊都是重要的.

有时候, 我们忘了我们的尊严. 有时, 我们忘了我们是尊贵的. 这就是为什么有人被别人羞辱时会生气. 这也是为什么有人会妒忌及自私因为他们以为自己不够好.

今天给我们每个人的好信讯是: “你是美丽的! 你是特别的!” 天主爱你甚至派遣他的圣子耶稣为你而牺牲! 纵使你认为你是大罪人, 你使家人及朋友失望, 在人生中你做错了很多事和没有人会接受你 – 别犹豫天主从不曾停止过爱你.

今天回家, 好好地照镜子对自己说: “天主爱你 …天主爱我.”

Recognising our True Worth

Twenty Fourth Ordinary Sunday Year C

When you really love someone, you are prepared to do crazy things. A mother is prepared to sacrifice everything to care for a son who has rejected her, and who lives a life as a drunkard and drug addict. A priest is prepared to work among the people living in a leper colony, exposing himself to the same illness of those who he was caring for. A father is prepared to jump into a pool to save one son although he knows that he may also lose his life. All these people may appear to be crazy but love makes you do crazy things.

This is the craziness of the stories in today’s gospel. A shepherd leaves ninety nine sheep to go after the one that is lost. A woman forgets about the other nine drachmas and goes in search for the 10th drachma that is love. The world may say: Accept your losses and carry on with whatever that is left. But God’s ways are different from our ways. When God loves, He loves without limit. God is prepared to go all out, humble himself, endure suffering, in order to seek for the sinner – the one who has rejected him, the one who says that he does not need God, the one who doesn’t care for anything in life except himself. We may think in our human way that the best thing to do would be to let these kind of people carry on with whatever they’re doing, and we too carry on with our own lives.

But God never gives up even when we chose to give up. God never stops working even though we have longed ceased all efforts. God never stops loving even when we may feel that it is impossible to love in such a situation. This is our God – the most compassionate and merciful.

What does this tell us? Each of us is very important. Each of us has a special dignity. Each of us is unique. Each of us is priceless and worth saving. We are not just nameless objects created in some big assembly plant in heaven. That is the meaning of the parables in today’s gospel. The shepherd is not too worried that he may have made a bad business decision in abandoning the ninety-nine to go after the one lost sheep. This is because every single sheep is dear and important to him.

Sometimes, we fail to recognize our own dignity. Sometimes, we forget that we are precious. That is the reason why people get angry with others when they are made to feel small. That is the reason why people become jealous and selfish because they feel that they are not good enough.

The good news for each one of you today is this: “You are beautiful! You are special!” God loves you so much that he is prepared to send his Son Jesus to die for you! Even if you may feel that you are a big sinner, that you are a disappointment to your family and friends, that you have made so many mistakes in your life and no one will ever accept you - never doubt that God will never stop loving you.

When you go home today, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself: “God loves you… God loves me.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

做门徒的条件

常年期第二十三主日

正当我们想由窄门进入已是不容易的事时, 耶稣在今天的福音中再加多三个条件. 跟随耶稣的确不容易! 成为基督徒也不容易. 正如今天福音的两个比喻告诉我们, 在我们还没许下承诺前应事先详细盘算. 换句话说, 我们应该很清楚地知道我们正在做什么. 我们不能盲目地跟随耶稣或没考虑到被召成为基督徒的含意.

耶稣在福音中所讲的哪三个条件呢?

第一条件是: “如果谁来就我, 而不恼恨自己的父亲,母亲,妻子,儿女, 兄弟, 姐妹, 甚至自己的性命, 不能够做我的门徒.” 对我们华人而言, 家庭观念甚重, 这训示未免太严厉了. 孔子说过对父母的孝大予天. 我们从小就受到这观念的熏陶 – 家庭及民族比任何东西都来得重要. 然而耶稣却说我们不该是这样的. 如果要我们在天主及家庭的意愿中选其一的话, 纵使要建反家人的意愿. 我们也必须首选天主的旨意. 这是否说我们不再爱我们的家人了? 当然不. 我们爱得更甚! 但是我们必须坚持予真理及什么是对的.当我们回顾历史, 我们会注意到很多罪孽 - 例如, 仇恨, 种族灭绝 – 都是因家庭及民族而引起. 身为基督徒使我们成为好儿女, 好兄弟姐妹. 但我们的家庭不应成为好基督徒的绊脚石.

耶稣所指的第二条件: “不论谁, 若不背着自己的十字架, 在我后面走, 不能做我的门徒.” 这要求较熟悉, 因为我们听过很多次.这是否意谓着天主要我们受苦呢? 不是的. 天主不要我们为了受苦而受苦. 反之, 十字架是生命的象征. 唯有像耶稣一样愿意为兄弟姐妹牺牲才是基督徒.

第三个条件是: “你们中不论谁, 如不舍弃他的一切所有, 不能做我的门徒.” 这不是指为做善事只施舍几分钱; 而是付出“所有”. 为我们许多人, 这一点耶稣未免过份了. 耶稣一方面要我们与家人意见不合,在另一方面却要我们舍弃一切跟随他. 他肯定是疯了. 我们很难解释这第三条条件. 很肯定的是-若我们选择跟随耶稣, 对世俗的观念我们必须完全改变. 不再容许为我们自私目的而积聚或获取财富而其他的人缺乏基本需要.

如果我们省察以上三个条件, 我们会发觉到以人的论点或理解, 那是完全不可接受的. 这些条件正如读经一中所指的, 唯有充满上主来的智慧的人才可理解及接受. 当我们以上智的眼光看事物时我们就可以认清我们所愿意放弃的一切若以天国的财富相比是不可比拟的.

听了这三个条件, 你们是否愿意跟随耶稣呢? 若你们愿意接受基督门徒的生活方式, 让我们起立朗诵信经以示对耶稣的承诺

Conditions for Discipleship

Twenty Third Ordinary Sunday Year C

Just when we thought that the narrow door was already difficult to enter, Jesus adds three more conditions in today’s gospel. It is not easy to follow Jesus! It is not easy to be a Christian. As the 2 parables in today’s gospel tell us, we must count the cost before committing ourselves. In other words, we must know what we are getting ourselves into. We cannot follow Christ blindly or be a Christian without considering the serious implications of our call.

What are the three conditions we hear Jesus speak off in today’s gospel?
The first condition is this: “Anyone who comes to me without hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, cannot be my disciple” This is a difficult/harsh teaching especially for us Chinese where we are constantly taught that family comes first. Confucius tells us that it is a greater sin to disobey and be disrespectful to your parents than disobedience to God. We have this principle taught to us from a very young age. Family and race is more important than anything else. But Jesus tells us that this should not be the case. If we are asked to choose between what our family wants us to do and what God wants from us, we must always choose what God wants even if this may go against the wishes of our family members. Does this mean that we stop loving our family members? No. We must love them more than ever. But we must be strong in our commitment to the truth and to what is right. Great sins have been committed in the name of family and race. The fact that it is done because of our allegiance to our family and our race does not make it right. Being a Christian helps us to become a better son or daughter, a better brother or sister. But our family should not be an obstacle from us becoming a good Christian.

The second condition made by Jesus is this: “No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple.” This demand is more familiar and we have been hearing it many times. Does this mean that God wants us to accept suffering? No. God does not want us to suffer for the sake of suffering. Rather, the cross is the symbol of the gift of one’s life. One is a Christian only when one is ready to offer oneself totally to one’s brother or sister, like Jesus.

The third condition is this: “None of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns.” It is not a matter of giving a few cents to charity. One must give up really “all.” For many of us, Jesus here, has really gone too far. It’s one thing to have a disagreement with our family members and to carry our cross, its another thing if Jesus wants us to give up everything in order to follow him. He really must be crazy! It’s not easy to explain this third demand. What is sure anyway is that if we choose to follow Jesus, then we must change completely our attitude towards the goods of this world. It is no longer permissible to accumulate and acquire riches and goods for our own selfish ends while so many other people do not even have basic needs fulfilled.

If we examine the above three conditions, we find that they are totally unacceptable to a person who is only led by human arguments/ reasoning. These conditions can only be understood and accepted by one who has been granted the “wisdom from above”, which the first reading speaks about. When we are able to see things anew with this divine wisdom, we will recognize that the things we are prepared to give up are considered less than nothing in comparison with the riches we shall obtain in the kingdom of God.

Having heard these three conditions, are you still prepared to follow Jesus? If you are prepared to accept the life of a disciple of Christ, then let us now stand and recommit ourselves to Jesus as we recite the creed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

谦虚的美德

常年期第二十二主日

今天的读经表扬谦虚的美德。我们知道谦虚是基督徒的美德但对它的意义却混淆不清。许多人常以为谦虚意谓着降低自己;换句话说,对自己,对个人的才华和个人的成就非常挑剔。因此我们对自己的才华天赋避而不谈免得被指自吹自擂。有一些人却批判本身的成就。例如有人会说:“我的菜肴很简单,我不太会烹煮。”“我不太会唱。我的嗓子不好。”“我不能成为这堂口的领袖因为我不够神圣。”而讽刺的是:每当我们降低自己时,我们其实期待别人的赞赏。这类的谦虚是假谦虚。假谦虚是骄傲的掩饰。

另一方面,耶稣要告诉我们的是,我们不应该对自己所做的要求任何酬劳,或赞赏,或感谢,或荣誉。我们不该寻求荣誉地位或成就上的赞誉。我们一旦沉迷于别人给予的赞赏和认同时,我们就会开始每做一件事都附带动机。当我们为别人做了一些事后而得不到所期待的称赞和感谢时,我们就感到伤心和生气。谦虚是服务并不图任何回报。谦虚是不求讨好别人的自由。谦虚是服务并为天主的光荣不是为自己。最后,最重要的是我们得到上主的恩宠有如读经一所告诉我们的。谦逊的人在上主面前,获得恩宠不是因为所得的一种回报,而是因为谦虚的人让天主成就他自己所不能做的。

谦虚要求自我认识。我们必须承认我们的优点和缺点。每一个人都是优点及缺点的混合体。如果我们学会接受我们优点和缺点,我们将是个更快乐的人。许多人对他们的缺点感到不安。我们不是设法遮掩我们的缺点就是尽可能批评别人使我们自己看来较优越。谦逊是学习容忍我们的缺点和优点。同样我们也应该承认每一个人都有他的优点和缺点。如果每一个人都同等强壮,如果没有人有任何缺点,我们就不需要对方。天主的确很明智把我们弱的和强的聚集在一起。我们要常记住没有人可以一手包办一切。每一个都可以做一点。

谦逊也要求我们接纳我们的邻居以兄弟姐妹般看待。有时,我们只与那些和我们有共同兴趣,和我们有共同语言,与我们有同肤色,和我们同种族或地位的人沟通。谦逊要求我们意识到每一个人都是珍贵的应受到同等尊重。我们不单尊重有钱的人,对穷人也应一视同仁。事实上,我们或许应更关注那些穷人,病患,及弱小者因他们比有钱的,健康的和强壮的人更需要我们。

让我们效法耶稣,谦虚的那一位:天主圣子屈尊就卑,降生成人更成为众人之仆。如果我们要成为基督徒,我们必须准备跟随基督修谦逊之德。因我们相信,唯有谦下才能在上主面前获得恩宠。

The Gift of Humility

Twenty Second Ordinary Sunday Year C

Today’s readings exalt the virtue of humility. We all know that humility is a Christian virtue but many are often confused as to its meaning. Many people often believe humility means putting oneself down; in other words, being very critical of oneself, one’s talents and one’s achievements. Therefore, we often avoid speaking about our talents and gifts because we fear that this would be boasting. Other people would also criticize their own achievements. E.g. “my dishes are very simple, I’m not very good at cooking.” “I don’t really sing well. I don’t have a good voice.” “I cannot be a leader in this parish because I’m not holy enough.” The irony is this: whenever we put ourselves down, we actually expect others to praise us and our achievements. Such humility is called false humility. False humility is a disguise for pride.

On the other hand, what Jesus is trying to tell is that we should not seek any reward, or praise, or thanks or honour for the things that we do. We should not look for positions of honour or for recognition of our achievements. Once we become addicted to praise and human recognition, we would then begin to do everything with a hidden motive. When we do not receive praise and thanks for the things that we do for others, we become hurt and angry. Humility is serving and giving without asking for anything in return. Humility is freedom from needing to please others. Humility is serving and giving for the glory of God and not for our own glory. Ultimately, what is most important is that we find favour with the Lord, as the first reading tells us. The humble man finds favour with the Lord, not because it is a form of reward, but because the humble man allows God to do what he himself cannot do.

Humility calls for self-knowledge. We must recognize both our strengths and weaknesses. Every person is a mixture of both strengths and weaknesses. If we learn to accept both our strengths and weaknesses, we would then be much happier persons. Many people are not comfortable with their weaknesses. We either try to hide our weaknesses or try to criticize others so that we can look stronger. Humility is learning to live with both our weaknesses and strengths. In the same way, we must also recognize that everyone too have their own weaknesses and strengths. If everyone is equally strong, if no one has any weaknesses, we won’t need each other. God is truly wise to bring us all together – both weak and strong. We must always remember that no one can do everything. But everyone can do something.

Humility is also a call to accept our neighbours as persons, indeed as brothers and sisters. Sometimes, we would only communicate with those who share common interests with us, those who speak the same language, those who have the same skin colour, those who are part of our race or status. Humility calls us to recognize everyone as valuable and deserving equal respect. We must not only respect the rich but also the poor. In fact, we may need to give more attention to the poor, the sick and the weak because they are in greater need than the rich, the healthy and the strong.

Let us follow the example of Jesus, the Humble One – he who was Son of God humbled himself to become man, and even humbler still to become a servant of all. If we want to be called Christians, we must be prepared to follow Christ on the way of humility. For we believe, that it is there we will find favour with God.