Thursday, July 31, 2014

順流逆流

我很少唱karaoke 。從15歲開始,我已習慣了用結他自彈自唱。

我沒有手提電話。我喜歡用地線電話,可以傳神和投入地交談。當我獨自在戶外活動時,也可以好好享用個人的寧靜和空間,不用受外界騷擾。

從沒想過要用iPad或iPhone等手機。我喜歡常常抬起頭做人,與四週的人保持視覺上的接觸(縱使是單方面的) ,不讓自己時時刻刻活在個人世界中,也不讓自己的行動和思念,受控於手心一塊電子板。

我對流行的 social media和WhatsApp總提不起興趣。曾多次因福傳需要而嘗試用Facebook和Twitter,但總有嘔心的感覺。我深信語言和溝通,除了實用的需要,還要顧及文學和藝術價值。人不是雀鳥,只會吱吱喳喳;也不是街頭犬隻,只管亂叫亂吠。我認為多花一點腦筋和心思,有技巧地,有層次地,有深度地表達自己,是人溝通應有的基本元素。

到今天,我仍然抗拒將月曆的每一天填得滿滿,讓自己忙得不可開交。很多人喜歡這樣做,以顯示自己生活得充實和有意義 (請參閱《忙,站在人身旁,顯得很了不起! 》)。更多人忙是因為自己不懂得好好安排和利用時間,而將自己弄得終日團團轉 (多年在教會環境中工作的經驗告訴我:八成以上的會議是不需要的!) 。所以,我「無情地」推卻不少活動和應酬,緊守宗旨,將有限的時間、資源和心思,重點地放在自己專注的事情上,深信重要的是質不是量。

繁忙的生活節奏容易使人心靈窒息,要做好事情,我需要平和閒靜的心。平和能生大智,使人明悟真理;閒靜能敏銳心靈,讓人洞察天主聖意。常說「願袮的旨意奉行在人間」,若不能洞察天主旨意,談何奉行?常說要恆常祈禱,與造物主建立密切的關係,若時常心煩意亂,來去匆匆,祈禱關係何從建立?

順流逆流是每一個人必須做的選擇,抗潮而行永遠是不容易的。如果你願意在生活上爭取主動,如果你像我一樣覺得需要一點閒靜和思考的空間,不妨嘗試放下你的手提電話、iPad、iPhone等手機;也不要花時間將晚飯餸菜照片放上Facebook或在 WhatsApp七咀八舌;嘗試在溝通上多化心思去尋求突破,更清晰和更有深度地表達自己。漸漸地你會發覺,自己的言行思想被提升到另一層面,整個人脫胎換骨,如立高山,只覺心曠神怡,視野清晰,天地萬象,一目了然!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cry, My Beloved Birth Place!



Remember the book "Cry, the Beloved Country"? I read it as a Form 3 (Grade 9) student in Hong Kong and was mightily moved by the social struggles experienced by the people of the pre-apartheid South Africa. At this moment, I can cry for Hong Kong - my beloved birth place - in view of the political turbulence the people of Hong Kong are experiencing in trying to twist arms with communist China to gain more freedom and democracy. As I reflect more on this issue from a broader perspective, I have this urge in me to cry for all the Chinese people and for 5,000 years of Chinese culture.

In a way, what is happening to Hong Kong today is the tragic outcome of a decision made by the politicians in 1842 when China conceded this mountainous and seemingly barren wasteland to Britain as a colony in the Treaty of Nanjing. Is the current government of Hong Kong to blame for failing to give its people real democracy? I say it's all the politicians in power over the years, not only from the current government of Hong Kong but also from Communist China, the Britain of the 20th century, Chiang Kai-Shek's government, the Qing Dynasty, and the Britain of the 19th century. In a word, history, which is full of human frailty, vice, and short-sightedness, is to blame.

To many people, religious belief is mere idealism. It's a human way to escape from the cruelty and imperfection of the "real world". If the "real world" – Hong Kong, other places enduring even more severe suffering like Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, Egypt, Libya, Syria, you name it - is the only world that mankind must live with, then our most logical and selfless wish should be for this "real world" to self-destruct as soon as possible so that mankind as a whole can stop suffering!

But the good news of the Gospel is that as bad as this world is and as hopeless as it may seem, the suffering of this world that we live in - the suffering of the people of Hong Kong - is not meaningless. As bad as it is, human suffering is not something that we can only accept passively and for which no rational explanation can be given. No, there are answers to all human puzzles and hardships; there are hopes in spite of this collective and longstanding enslavement of the human race. The answers and hopes have been revealed by God himself in the Gospel, which is not mere idealism. It is real human history manifested in the words and works of a man named Jesus; it is love crystallized in the body and blood that he gave up for us. There is hope for liberation in this whole history of human turmoil. In fact, in Christ we are already liberated!

This is why the Christians find the Gospel so inspiring and fascinating. This is why the true Christians devote their whole lives to living out the Gospel. This is also why according to Jesus the kingdom of God, once discovered, is so important to our being that it commands all of our wills, passions, and possessions (cf. Mt. 13:44-46)!

My topic inevitably turns to faith no matter what I write. But I do this not because I want to bore you - my reader - to death, but because I need you to understand why the Gospel means so much to me and why I do what I do these days - spending the rest of my life to proclaim the Gospel. At this point of my life, what St. Paul expresses so admirably in Phil 1:21 is a constant resonance in my heart: "For my life is Christ, and death is gain."

Let's pray for the people of Hong Kong and for all the Chinese people in the world who have suffered way too long. Cry, my beloved birth place! Cry, my beloved people!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Lord, You Are Good and Forgiving!" (Psalm 86:5) - Our Real Reason For Hope

This is my reflection on the Mass readings of Sunday, July 20, 2014
Year A Ordinary Time 16th Sunday
Mass Readings: Wis 12:13, 16-19; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43

“Lord, you are good and forgiving!” Captured in the antiphon of the Responsorial Psalm is the heart of the message of this Sunday’s Mass readings – an amazing message that punctuates every action taken by God in the history of salvation, a wonderful message that gives us the real reason to be hopeful and joyful.

God “gave [His] sons good ground for hope that [He] would permit repentance for their sins” (Wis 12:19), intoned the inspired writer in the first reading.

“Let them grow together until harvest” (Mt. 13:30), replied the kind and patient householder in Jesus’ parable in response to his servant’s request to pull up the weeds that grew through the wheat, for he didn’t want the uprooting of the weeds to endanger the wheat.

"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity!” (Ex. 34:6) God revealed His loving, patient, and merciful nature to Israel as soon as He entered into a covenant with them.

This brings to mind a story that has touched so many hearts.

Bob and Debbie were devout Catholics and loving parents who did everything possible to give their two children, Jack and Stephanie, a good Catholic upbringing. While Stephanie excelled in both her faith and career, Jack started to drift away from church soon after entering university. Soon after university, which he barely managed to complete, he was able to find a job. But his career went from blunder to blunder, changing jobs 4 times in a matter of 2 years. Eventually he became unemployed. He started drinking. One night he came home very drunk, messing up the bath room and waking up everyone in the house.

Stephanie, who was working on a company project that must be submitted the next morning, was very angry with her brother. Out of frustration, she demanded that her dad do something to “punish” him and “fix him up once and for all!” Bob, who had known for years that his son was suffering from a certain mental disorder that had been bothering him since he entered university, gave Stephanie a little hug and said, “Stephanie, you know how much mom and dad love you and how pleased we are that you continue to grow in faith. As for your brother Jack, the one who judges is the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 4:4) and we know the Lord is kind, patient, and merciful. Let’s just follow Jesus, who loves us not because we are good and righteous but because we are sinners. If Jesus forgives us even if we continue to sin against him, let’s also forgive your brother and love him even more in his times of hardship.”

Let’s conclude this Sunday reflection with a prayer:

Have mercy on us, O God!
Look not on our sins and destroy us not for the sake of Your Son’s sorrowful passion!
“If you, Lord, mark our sins, who can stand?” (Psalm 130:3)
Help us forgive those who trespass against us,
The way you forgive us who trespass against you!
Amen!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Should Doctors Be Forced to Accept the Patients' Morality in Performing All Treatments, Including the Non-Emergency Ones?

Many readers who share my Christian beliefs will agree with me that living in the world of liturgies, prayers, and Scriptures is peaceful and full of joy. But, as we have seen so many times and in so many places where people are persecuted and killed for no reason other than their religious convictions, our freedom to lead a religious and moral life that's grounded in Christian beliefs and morality should not be taken for granted. It needs to be defended. Sometimes, as so many martyrs and saints have done in the history of the Church, it may even require the shedding of blood and the sacrifice of lives.

"OK. I'll fight a good fight! I'll join the Church martyrs; I'm ready to die for Christ!" you say. Not so soon! And it's not so simple. Often times, it's the little battles that add up and eventually get us killed without us knowing it - much like a frog dying in the "warmth" of slow boiling water! Here's one of those battles we cannot afford to ignore.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is asking for public input as part of its regular review of policy guidelines. At issue in this current review is the right of doctors to refuse to provide certain treatments based on religious or moral grounds. The current CPSO policy allows doctors to refrain from performing non-emergency procedures should the procedures violate their individual conscience.

“Non-emergency procedures” refer to issues such as infant male circumcision, prescribed birth control, certain types of medications, medicinal marijuana, or an abortion procedure. (In the future, this list may very well include euthanasia or assisted suicide.) In other words, we are not talking about providing health-care services where a patient’s life is at risk.

If you believe, as I do, that CPSO should NOT be imposing morality on all physicians, to the point where doctors need to violate their own conscience in order to serve their patients’ need to do non-emergency procedures (as listed above), you should go to CPSO’s Quick Poll to vote YES on their question: “Do you think a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs?”

While you are there, you may also want to submit a comment against CPSO’s attempt to impose their morality on all physicians. You can do so by posting your comment to the CPSO forum, or by emailing CPSO. Links are available on the CPSO Quick Poll to allow you to do both. Here’s the link to the CPSO Quick Poll (deadline for feedback is August 5, 2014):

CPSO Quick Poll

Should you be interested in researching more about this issue and why the answer to the CPSO Quick Poll question should be YES, I would recommend the following three articles:

1. Article by John Carpay
2. Article by David Bulgar
3. Article by Mike Schouten

(Acknowledgement: The content of this post is adopted partly from the Mike Schouten article with modification.)