Friday, October 5, 2018

醫院急症室的一幕

這是我親身經歷的故事。在醫院急症室一病房,傳來女病人歇斯底理的叫喊和狂駡。她操粵語;她的病房門口站著兩個保安人员。她像有精神病,重覆和不停地破口大骂説:「唔好搅我呀!搅,搅,搅!我毛管都動啦!重搅!重搅!係咪我死咗你先開心呀!」

不知道她實質上遭遇過甚麼事。被非禮?被強姦?被丈夫或男友拋棄?只覺她非常憤怒和無助,好像一個不幸受了很大和很多打擊的女人。

聽著,聽著,心裡不期然為她感到難過和凄酸。感觉是:這世界很多時對女性不公平,她們常是男人的受害者,社會的犧性品。各種社會環境和家庭倫理關係,對女性也較不利。

記得孩童時,在我成長的地方,有一個好赌的女士。她賭到沒錢便出賣肉身,做「生意」時連架部也沒有,與「顧客」就在樓梯底了事。做完「生意」又再賭,反正自己身體就是用不完的本錢。想起来,她好賭固然不好,但她也是這社會制度下,男人的受害者。

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Are You a Follower of Christ Or Just a Fan?

As fascinating as the Bible is, we must keep in mind that biblical interpretation is ultimately not academic but liturgical.



In the gospel reading of Sunday, September 9, Jesus heals a deaf man who also has a speech impediment. The significance of this miracle can only be fully understood from Luke’s account of a brief encounter between the disciples of John the Baptist and Jesus. When John sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus whether he is “the one who is to come”, our Lord answers, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Luke 7:19, 22). Like John’s disciples, what we have seen and heard in this Sunday’s gospel are miracles similar to those alluded to in the said Lucan account.

In the first reading, promises of the same miracles roll off the tongue of the Prophet Isaiah one after another like magic roses: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing” (Is 35:5-6). By performing all the signs that Isaiah has promised will appear when the Messiah comes, Jesus is making an epic statement: The Messianic prophecies of Isaiah have now been fulfilled in me; I am the Messiah, “the one to come”. Promises made, promises kept!

It doesn’t take long for a careful and persistent reader of the Bible to realize that the book is not an undifferentiated collection of unrelated texts, voluminous that it is. Rather, from beginning to end, it is a remarkably coherent story about God’s plan to save us. Gradually but surely God’s plan unfolds in human history, through generations and across geographical boundaries, defying all cultural barriers and surpassing all religious and political ideologies.

It flows in continuity. Through human writers, the same God who tells us the story of creation, the conjugal union of Adam and Eve, and the kingdom of David, also reveals to us the consummation of the New World order, the one-body union of Christ and his Church (the new Adam and Eve), and the glory of the Kingdom of God. From the Old Testament to the New, every promise or prophecy that has ever been made is fulfilled; every iconic figure, image, and sign that has ever crossed the stage of this long drama of Redemption is given its definitive and final meaning.

In contemplating this awesome mystery – this heavenly treasury of life and wisdom that we call the Bible, St. Augustine, known for his skills in rhetoric and articulation of words, could barely find words to express himself. This short acclaim is all the words he could manage to put together: Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet, Vetus in Novo patet, or the New Testament is hidden in the Old, the Old is revealed in the New, his famous dictum on the Bible. Hidden in the Old Testament - this Sunday's first reading from Isaiah - is Jesus coming as our Savior. Revealed in the New Testament - this Sunday's gospel reading - is how the Isaian promise came to fruition in Jesus.

In concluding this reflection, here’s a little reminder for those interested in biblical hermeneutics (the interpretation of biblical texts) from someone who speaks from his experience in this regard. It’s easy to make the mistake of wanting to be Jesus’ follower but ending up being just a fan. We must keep in mind that just as the word of God is spoken not for us to study but to live, the discipline of biblical interpretation ultimately is pursued not as an academic exercise but as a living, liturgical experience. What are we saying here? What we are saying is that to be truly Christian is to be a true follower of Christ and not just a fan. A fan of Christ is interested in – even crazy about - everything he does, researches every word he says, and reads every book there is about him; but somehow just falls short of really entering into an authentic and intimate relationship with him. A true follower of Christ, on the other hand, wants to live in him; experience his presence; and become one with him. What better way to do all that than going to Mass, which is a significant and integral part of living out our Catholic faith? For both liturgically and sacramentally, it is in the Mass celebration that Christ makes his word heard through the Liturgy of the Word; his presence felt through the priest celebrating the Mass in persona Christi; and his Body and Blood come alive through the Liturgy of the Eucharist!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Do We Pray To Change God's Mind?

For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. (Phil 1:21)



Approaching my mid-sixties, various ailments in my body begin to appear; some just plain annoying, some can be serious if left unattended. With such ailments in mind, I’ve been pleading for God’s help in my prayers: hope it’s not serious; grant me speedy recovery; save me from further medical treatments; keep me healthy so I can continue to serve….

As I prayed more and reflected more on the spirit of the Gospel, these words of St. Paul suddenly emerged like a stream of light: “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (Phil 1:21).

Praise the Lord! The enlightenment is profound and comforting. Why worry about these bodily ailments? They will continue to appear and will do so even more as my feeble human body ages. It’s only natural. If my health goes downhill from here to the point that I have to leave this world, I just have to accept it. It’ll be sad indeed to have to leave behind my family and friends. It’ll be unfortunate if I can’t use God's gifts to serve people more. But the eventuality of such an outcome only makes me realize what a wonderful blessing God has given me through baptism and how thankful I should be to Him for the profound awakening that He granted in the nineties by putting me through a deep conversion which truly turned my life around – or upside down, to be exact - and enabled me to walk in the light of Christ ever since!

This powerful experience of prayer also reinforces St. Augustine’s explanation of what prayer is and how it works. We often pray as though we want to change God’s mind. But how can we powerless mortals be capable of changing and influencing God who is by nature immutable? We pray, according to St. Augustine, not to change God but to change ourselves! “So by confessing our own miserable state and acknowledging your mercy towards us we open our hearts to you, so that you may free us wholly, as you have already begun to do. Then we shall no longer be miserable in ourselves but will find our true happiness in you” (Confessions, XI.1). Referring to Psalm 50:9-10 – “I need no bullock from your house, no goats from your fold; for every animal of the forest is mine, beasts by the thousands on my mountains” - he says we must understand that we pray and worship not because God needs us or desires our offerings but because we need God to change our hearts through prayer (City of God, I.x.6). How true!

Monday, July 23, 2018

天主教的禮儀和傳統讓人參與耶穌和宗徒的經歷

因著天主教教會悠悠二千年的彌撒禮儀和傳統,我們奇妙地參與著耶穌和宗徒們所經歷過的同樣的敬禮。


彌撒前半部稱為聖道禮儀。它的來源可追索到古猶太人會堂(Synagogue) 的做法。當時的參禮者用祈禱和讚頌來敬禮天主,並誦讀聖言,聆聽祂的教導。誦讀的經文來自舊約法律和先知書。誦讀過程中,還加插聖詠詠唱。天主教教會採用的Gregorian Chant的樂曲,很多與當年耶路撒冷聖殿所採用的音樂有關(註一)。除舊約經文外,初期教會開始在聖道禮儀中加入有關福音和宗徒書信的讀經,確立了今天彌撒聖道禮儀的雛形。

值得留意的是,上述彌撒禮儀演變的歷史,顯示我們今天在彌撒聖道禮儀中所經歷的,與耶穌和宗徒們當年在猶太人會堂和耶路撒冷聖殿所經歷的近似和有關。他們也聆聽著同樣的,來自法律和先知書的經文,和用類似的音樂來詠唱聖詠。這解釋了傳統為甚麼重要。因著天主教教會悠悠二千年的彌撒禮儀和傳統,我們奇妙地參與著耶穌和宗徒們所經歷過的同樣的敬禮。

彌撒的後半部是聖祭禮儀,即耶穌基督在最後晚餐中所訂立的聖軆聖事(見瑪竇福音26:17-28, 路加福音22:7-20) 。耶穌復活後在厄瑪烏村莊與兩門徒相遇的過程,本身就是一個彌撒的縮影:先講道(「衪於是從梅瑟及眾先知開始,把全部經書論及衪的話,都給他們解釋了」(路24:27)) ,再領聖軆(「當耶穌與他們坐下吃飯的時候,就拿起餅來,祝福了,擘開,遞給他們 」(路24:30)) 。

(一)關於猶太傳統和Gregorian Chant關係,請參閱The History of Gregorian Chant:https://spiritualray.com/the-history-of-gregorian-chant

Thursday, July 12, 2018

人類已觀察到的宇宙全貌

人類已觀察到的宇宙全貌 - 非常震撼!

上面的短片很有啟發性,發人深省。有人會因此而信有神,也有人會因此而不信。這是因為人總依靠自己的理性去分析和推想。不幸地,人類的理性有其弱點,也有被不正確地運用的時候。所以人根据理性而得來的結論,很多時都不正確。

假設今天我突然瞎了眼,以至完全看不見事物。正呆坐家中期間,有一個人突然來探望我。他説自己是童年時和我一起玩的街童,叫做林小明(假名)。一時間,我懷疑他所說是否真實。一方面我看不見他;此外因為年紀関係,他的聲音也变了,使我無法分辨他究竟是不是林小明。

但從他告訢我的往事,和談及過去一些只有他和我才知的,有關我們兩人的友情和関係;再加上他能正確地告訴我很多很多有關我的家人和我倆一起成長的事情,使我不能不相信他的確是林小明。他甚至叫我唱小时我喜歡唱的, Cliff Richard 的 When the Girl in Your Arms Is the Girl in Your Heart。我一邊唱,他一邊像小時候般,用la la la 來伴和,讓我一點也不再猶豫,百分之一百肯定,這人真是林小明!

天主就是上文假设的林小明。祂為了證實自己是天主而說和做的事情,都清楚記載在聖經中。這些說話和行為要比上述林小明所説和做的,更強而有力,讓人無可推諉。這解釋了為甚麼十六年來,我從未間段地舉行聖經硏討會,讓人根據天主直接啓示的話語去決定衪存在與否,而不是靠自己或某某學者的觀察和分析。

Friday, June 8, 2018

人生猶如一塲賽跑

今年我主持的聖經硏討會硏究的聖經是希伯来人書。想和大家分享以下一段很有意思的經文。

「就讓我們脫去各樣的重擔和容易纏累我們的罪,藉著忍耐去跑那擺在我們前面的賽程, 仰望信仰的創始者和成終者耶穌。」(希伯來人書12:1-2)

對保祿,人生像古希腊奧林匹克競賽一般,是一個競争的過程;它猶如一塲賽跑,參賽者務求成功到達终點(天鄉)。這表示成功的人生(或賽程)應具備以下三大特點:

(一) 簡單 一 賽程上,運動員要行裝簡便,盡量脱去阻碍行動的重擔。(古希腊奥林匹克運動員甚至身無寸縷地參賽。)他明白競賽的旅途只是一個過程,不是終向,所以不會眷戀過程本身,也不寄情過程中的事與物,將一切看成幫助人跑到終點的工具。所以快樂和成功的人生,應生活簡樸。

(二)肯挨 一 要成功跑到终点,便要好好地鍛鍊,吃得苦中苦,方為人上人。在人生道路上應忍耐,堅信上主,縱遇上痛苦困难,絕不放棄,反而因為信靠主而樂於接受考验,心中時常充滿平安和感恩。

(三)信主 一 最重要地,在賽跑途中,双目注視的,不是花花世界的名名利利和享受,也不是週圍的人。很多人甚至將人當偶像來崇拜,或不斷將自己和别人作比较,做成鬥争或帶來妒忌、抱怨和仇恨。人應注視的是主耶穌,他已在我们前便完美地完成賽程,应跟隨他的言行、榜樣和教導。凡事先問「WWJD」?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

耶穌孝敬祂的母親嗎?

當聽到自己母親來到,耶穌的回應聽起來好像有些拒人千里,沒有親切歡迎母親和家人。


這個主日的福音讀經來看,似乎耶穌不大尊重祂的母親。當人告知耶穌祂母親和兄弟在外面要求見祂時,按馬爾谷祂的回應是:「誰是我的母親和我的兄弟?......因為誰奉行天主的旨意,他就是我的兄弟、姊妹和母親」。聽起來耶穌好像拒人千里,沒有親切歡迎母親和家人。耶穌是否忘記了十誡中的第四誡─當孝敬父母?雖説耶穌不會有罪,但祂這反應是否代表他犯了罪?我們先別倉猝下結論,先探討一下。

今天的讀經一將原祖亞當和厄娃違背天主的命令,吃了知善惡樹上的果子一事放在顯微鏡下細看(創2:16-17)。我們的原祖父母不服從天主命令的後果是即時和災難性的:在犯錯前,他們赤身露體,「並不害羞」,但現在他們卻突然感到不安(創2:25)。但為甚麼說這是災難性?每個人赤身露體時,不是都會覺得不安嗎?請讀下去。這是表面,内裡有更深層次的問題。亞當的脆弱,看來沒有什麼不妥,其實裡面卻出現了一些極壞的問題,需要天主立即採取行動。

當天主查問亞當時,他這樣向天主解釋:「我害怕,因為我赤身裸體,所以我藏了起來」(創3:9-10)。人在甚麼時候會覺得他需要躲避天主鋭利的眼光?你猜對了:當他生活在重罪中時。這就是亞當和厄娃在違背天主命令之後所處的狀態。由於真正的幸福只能在天主内得到,當原祖不想靠近天主時,他們是不可能快樂的。事實上,有一個地方離開天主極遠,甚至連祂的存在也絕對不能感覺得到。那地方稱為「地獄」。當人選擇不遵循天主的道路時;當人故意迴避天主,不欲棲身於祂永遠幸福的居所時;地獄是他唯一的歸宿。很明顯,當原祖父母失去天主的恩寵之後,人類便處於極大的危機中。

但天主慈愛憐憫,不希望人永遠離開祂。結果在我們的原祖父母第一次犯罪的同時,天主立刻宣佈祂的救贖計劃。祂對這條蛇 -- 後來若望指證它就是「魔鬼或撒殫」(默12:9)-- 宣佈判決:「我要把仇恨放在你和女人,你的後裔和她的後裔之間,她的後裔要踏碎你的頭顱,你要傷害他的腳跟」(創 3:15)。這段話在基督信仰傳統上一直被稱為「原始福音」或Protoevangelium,因為在這個古老的故事中,我們看到上主的預告,宣佈耶穌的救贖會踏碎撒殫的頭顱並拯救我們於地獄永罰(天主教教理410)。

請注意,除了救世主會踏碎撒殫的頭外;在這善與惡的對抗中,有一個「女人」被巧妙地安排於其中。教會傳統一向認為這「女人」是聖母瑪利亞,因為是她的後代,耶穌,會攻擊撒殫的頭(天主教教理411,《教會》憲章55)。她在「原始福音」中的關鍵角色,就像她在新約福音中的角色一樣,是不可或缺的,因為種種原因,她的角色充滿涵意,包括她修復了厄娃所犯的錯、她的無玷始胎、她在天主救世計劃中,與天主無與倫比地配合的獨特使命等(天主教教理 411, 968)。但在這裡,我們只強調一個重要的原因:她出於信德的服從。

為什麼這「女人」─聖母瑪利亞─會出現在這場有決定性和激烈的善與惡的爭鬥中?她出現是因為她出於信德的順從。當她被要求在天主的拯救計劃中擔綱關鍵性的角色時,瑪利亞的回答非常肯定:「看,上主的婢女,願照你的話成就於我吧!」(路1:38)。她的應允讓天主的計劃成為可能;她的應允給聖子一個用來做祭獻的身體,使聖子能夠承行聖父的旨意(參看希10:5-7,《救世主之母》通諭 n.13)。聖母「充滿恩寵」是因為她相信,而「那信了由上主傳於她的話必要完成的,是有福的」(路1:28, 45)。

現在回到這個主日令我們感到困惑的福音讀經。由於尊重她作為耶穌母親的身份,人們覺得有必要宣告聖母瑪利亞的到來。而耶穌的反應絕不是譴責祂的母親,祂的回答肯定了她至高無上的榮譽和特殊地位,祂提醒群衆 -- 和世界 -- 聖母值得我們極度的尊敬,並不因為她是祂的母親, 而是因為她相信並服從天主的聖言。聖母瑪利亞的服從扭轉了厄娃的不服從;她的堅信解開了因厄娃的不信所形成的死結。主耶穌堅持地說:「因為誰奉行天主的旨意,他就是我的兄弟、姊妹和母親」(谷3:35)。