Monday, October 2, 2017

If I Must Give One and Only One Reason Why I Support Fountain of Love and Life



“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1 Thes 1:6-7).

Which is easier? Admitting that we are sinners or setting good examples for others to follow? I would submit to you that the latter is a hundred times more difficult to do.

If a bridge is built to fall, it can be constructed easily since its collapse is expected and its demolition all but inevitable. But if it’s meant to be used to carry heavy traffic safely, then it must be engineered properly, built carefully, and tested rigorously before it can be licensed for public use. Setting good examples for others is like building a good bridge. To be worthy of people’s trust and even imitation, we must make sure “that no fault may be found with our ministry”, lest our flaws, however minuscule, become the reason for those looking up to us to stumble (2 Cor 6:3). Paul is pleased with the Thessalonian church because their good efforts have made them worthy of being “a model” for the believers of the neighboring communities. Expecting no less from himself and the church leaders, he also invites the Thessalonians to become “imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thes 1:6).

In all these years of volunteering for the Fountain of Love and Life (FLL), the blessings that the good Lord has granted me are more than I can count. But if I must pick the most important one, I would say it’s the opportunity to work and associate closely with a good number of true followers of Christ whose determination to live out the Catholic faith in a radical way is unshakable. For them, St. Paul’s conviction about life - “life is Christ, and death is gain” - is more than just a motto; it’s their only way to live (Phil 1:21).

If my Christian values and my way of life as a serious follower of Christ are causing me to feel increasingly marginalized and isolated in a world that is getting more and more secularized, relativized (no right or wrong), and is in danger of drifting further and further away from God, here in the community of FLL I find support and fellowship that make me feel perfectly at home. It’s a community of good Catholics who come together not for their own sake but for the sake of helping others; a community that bonds as one not because they feel the need to recoil, but because they want to reach out.

It’s also a community that is not afraid to profess to be “the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2:15). Like St. Paul, they do not retreat and hide; they stand up and make public their ambition: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). True to Jesus’ teaching, they aspire to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; they invite people to their home base to “come and see” (Jn 1:39). By exercising their special calling to evangelize, their desire is to offer up their bodies – their whole lives! – “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Rom 12:1). Their wish is to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into a pleasing fragrance that brings life, a sweet smell that elicits hope, a comforting breath that speaks the language of love. The sensation is unmistakable; the charisma irresistible. In them I sense holiness, and holiness attracts.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Please Sponsor Me to Walk for Fountain of Love and Life!

Over the last 20 years, many things about me have changed: age, outlook, work, way of living, you name it. But one thing that remains unchanged is my passion to spread the Good News of Christ - a passion driven by joy, enlightened by His Word, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. While some of my programs have been invaluable in enabling me to carry out my lay apostolate of evangelization, their effectiveness in reaching out to a larger and wider audience certainly would have been quite limited without the powerful media platforms of Fountain of Love and Life.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, I will join the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Challenge to fund raise for Fountain of Love and Life. Many of you share my passion to spread the Gospel and are strong supporters of my programs. I know I will be able to count on your generous support for this very meaningful fundraising initiative. Please click on the following link to my personal fundraising page to make a donation:

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Walkathon - Edmond Lo's Personal Fundraising Page

Thus I do not run aimlessly...No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:26-27). I know I will not run(walk) aimlessly with your generous support either in money or in prayer or both! God bless you for your generosity!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Justification Is Never a Legalistic Endeavor



Ezekiel’s teaching in today’s first reading remains somewhat theoretical until it is understood in the context of Jesus’ parable of the two sons (Mt 21:28-32).

Ezekiel’s “wicked man” who “has turned away from all the sins which he committed” (Ez 18:27-28) is the first son in Jesus’ parable, whose disobedience turned into an act of love (working in the vineyard for his father and family members) after he “changed his mind” (Mt 21:30). He is compared to tax collectors and prostitutes – considered sinners in Jesus’ time – whose repentance, as shown in their willingness to follow John the Baptist, brings them the grace of “entering the kingdom of God before [the chief priests and elders]” (Mt. 21:31).

The virtuous man who “turns away from virtue to commit iniquity” in Ezekiel’s exhortation (Ez 18:26), on the other hand, is the second son in Jesus’ parable, who is originally obedient to the father but eventually chooses not to do good work (Mt. 21:30). He represents the chief priests and elders, who heard John the Baptist’s call for repentance but “did not later change [their] minds and believe him” (Mt. 21:32). The punishment for such hardness of heart is severe: death according to Ezekiel (Ez. 18:26) and deemed worse than the tax collectors and prostitutes in Jesus’ parable (Mt. 21:31).

It’s hard to miss the common thread connecting Ezekiel’s message and Jesus’ parable - repentance. What is needed is a change of heart – a “turning from the wickedness” in Ezekiel’s word (Ez 18:27), or the first son’s change of mind to rescind his previous decision to disobey his father in Jesus’ parable (Mt 21:29). It’s a complete backtracking just as one is about to fall off the cliff; the result of a beautiful conversion, made possible not by human efforts but by God’s mercies, achieved not because one works hard but because his heart is touched and transformed by the Holy Spirit.

“Remember your mercies, O Lord.” Together we chant in the Responsorial Psalm to drive home this very important message.

The beauty of the Christian faith is that justification is never a legalistic endeavor: it’s not about relying on our own effort to “right a wrong”, even if it’s important to do so; it’s not about “an eye for an eye”, even though it seems fair. The flip side of this legalistic mindset is a misguided self-sufficiency, or arrogance, even narcissism: I fix my own mistake; I do good work and I deserve the recognition; I…I…I... Justification is not from the internal “I”, it’s from the external “He”; justification is not about ability, it’s about humility; justification is not a human pursuit, it’s divine mercy.

Remember your mercies, O Lord. Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way (Psalm 25:6, 8-9).

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jesus, the Master Story-Teller

Of all the parables of Jesus, I find the parable of the laborers in the vineyard particularly intriguing and thought-provoking. The story never fails to elicit strong reactions from its listeners that include disbelief, protest, or even outright anger. But once properly understood, its reward for those who care to really listen is the consolation of a big “Aha” moment and the priceless satisfaction of seeing the truth more clearly.

A skillful story-teller that Jesus is, he knows just what to say to break the apathy of the human mind so that it’s back into focus and ready for wisdom. To do so sometimes he may say something that seems to defy all logic and generally accepted norms, as is the case in this Sunday’s gospel. How can it be fair for the landowner to pay all laborers in the vineyard the same usual daily wage regardless of how many hours they have worked? People wonder aloud. When they realize that the landowner in the parable refers to God, it triggers in them even more discomfort and resentment: Isn’t God just and righteous? Why does He act like a tyrant who does whatever He pleases? The progression from bewilderment to resentment and then to strong protest can come in quick successions.

The key to understanding this parable is to see the “usual daily wage” not as a monetary compensation for work done, but as God’s grace freely given to save first the people of Israel and later the Gentiles. The fact that God’s saving grace is extended equally to both Israel, who took part in God’s plan of salvation first, and the late-coming Gentiles suggests not unfairness on God’s part, but His generosity and mercy. (Ref: Ignatius Catholic Study Bible commentary on this parable.)

The concept that proves so difficult to grasp for so many people is that God’s grace, i.e. the “usual daily wage” in the parable, is something that cannot be earned. Contrary to human understanding, which is often blinded by our earthly way of life, the kingdom of heaven - the subject matter of this parable - is not a “market place”. Unlike this world, which, due to human limitations, is dominated by consumerism and the principle of buying and selling, the kingdom of heaven is powered by God’s grace alone, which, shocking as it may sound, is not for sale. Neither is grace something that can be bought or earned by mere human efforts (cf. Fr. Richard Rohr, Things Hidden – Scripture as Spirituality, 2008, p. 160).

Now that we know better what grace is, we would appreciate more what the prophet Isaiah said when he proclaimed the magnificent gifts that God would lavish on His people: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” (Is. 55:1)

Shocking, isn’t it? Don’t know about you, but to me the parable is more like a shock therapy for resuscitating our hearts which are totally numb, or a powerful stimulant for rejuvenating our brains which are all but dead. No, I’m not talking about drugs. I’m talking about Jesus, the master story-teller, who knows exactly what to say to revive us from apparent death.

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017-18聖經研討會接受報名

2017-18年度聖經研討會將查考《希伯來人書》。主耶穌的祭獻與耶路撒冷聖殿內的祭獻有何不同?這聖祭和彌撒聖祭有何關係?為甚麽忠實奉行因洗禮而領受了的司祭職是人生命的滿全?歡迎參加聖經研討會,和我們一起在聖言內成長。詳情如下:

聚會日期: 由今年九月廿二日起至下年六月九日止
聚會時間: 每月第四個星期五晚上7:45至10:00
聚會地點: 中華殉道聖人堂土庫。用粵語進行。
領航員: Edmond Lo, 神學碩士、慕道班導師、講者
講義費: 每位$10
報名: 請往堂區詢問處登記。
網上報名: cmccbsp.org
聯絡人: Louisa Lam louisalam2002@gmail.com

Sunday, August 6, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: Fountain of Love and Life Spiritual Formation Program 2017-2018

Hope everyone is enjoying the nice summery weather while it is here! With the temperatures trending down and the green foliage of summer shedding its luster ever so slightly, summer is quietly slipping out the back door like a guest too embarrassed to announce his departure. This means a new school year for our children is about to begin. Here at Fountain of Love and Life (FLL), it’s also time for us to gear up for a new year of spiritual formation.

The FLL Spiritual Formation Program (FLL SFP) meets on the second Monday of every month from September to June. Our meeting takes place in the FLL studio from 8:00 to 10 p.m.. Hosted by Edmond Lo (MTS, speaker and RCIA catechist), the program’s objective is to provide the FLL volunteers, staff members, and supporters with an opportunity for spiritual enrichment and fellowship. Using DVDs produced by renowned Catholic speakers and scholars, it helps the participants to acquire a better understanding of the Catholic faith and appreciate more the riches of the tradition of the Catholic Church.

After taking a brief, 2-month summer break, the program is scheduled to resume on Monday, September 11, 2017. For 2017-2018, the focus of our attention will shift from Symbolon – the DVD series that we studied in the last two years - to Bishop Robert Barron’s exciting and brand-new DVD series – The Pivotal Players. Four pivotal players of the Church have been selected for our study this year, namely, Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Michelangelo (The Artist), and St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian). In addition, two of the Symbolon episodes that remain unviewed, namely, “Building a Civilization of Love”, and “Protecting the Dignity of the Human Person”, have also been included in this year’s program.

Please take a moment to read the time schedule of the 2017-2018 program copied below this announcement. We invite you to mark the meeting dates in your calendar and do your best to join us. If you cannot commit to attending every month, you are welcome to attend only the topics that are of interest to you. As usual, we will send you a reminder before every meeting.

We would also like to welcome back our beloved brothers and sisters of the Vancouver Chapter who joined us through tele-conferencing last year. Kindly pass along the information to those who may not be on our list.

“The presence of Christ is embodied in the lives of real people” (Bishop R. Barron, The Pivotal Players Study Guide). Together with Bishop Barron, let’s meet these distinguished men and women of the Church who have not only shaped the life of the Church but changed the course of civilization. Let’s pray that their lives, which truly exemplify the meaning of holiness, will inspire us to accept the universal call to holiness.



Fountain of Love and Life
Spiritual Formation Program
2017-2018 Schedule

Mon, Sept 11, 2017 - Pivotal Players - Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), Part I: Anglican and Catholic Times
Mon, Oct 16, 2017 - Pivotal Players - Blessed John Henry Newman (The Convert), Part II: Major Works
Mon, Nov 13, 2017 - Symbolon - Catholic Social Teaching: Building a Civilization of Love
Mon, Dec 11, 2017 - Pivotal Players – St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Part I: Her Life
Mon, Jan 8, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Catherine of Siena (The Mystic), Part II: Her Theology, Visions and Ecstasies
Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Symbolon – Catholic Social Teaching: Protecting the Dignity of the Human Person
Mon, Mar 12, 2018 - Pivotal Players – Michelangelo (The Artist), Part I: Life and Times
Mon, Apr 9, 2018 - Pivotal Players – Michelangelo (The Artist), Part II: The Sistine Chapel
Mon, May 7, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian), Part I: Life and Times
Mon, Jun 11, 2018 - Pivotal Players – St. Thomas Aquinas (The Theologian), Part II: His Theology

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why Is Jesus "the Son of Man"?

Last year the CMCC Bible Study Program celebrated 15 years of studying the Bible and growing together in the word of God. The book we studied to commemorate this special year was Daniel. As usual, the program ended in June, but it will begin anew in September together with my other programs and activities. The two summer months in between provide me with a cushion not only to take a break but also to rejuvenate, study, plan, and get ready for next year.

With the fascinating and sometimes frightening images of the Book of Daniel still fresh in my head – the statue of four metals being smashed by a pulverizing stone, three young men worshipping God safely in a burning fiery furnace, Daniel being protected by God’s angel in the den of lions, the visions of the four beasts, etc. – I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Church would use one of the most well-known Danielic images – the enthronement in heaven of “the Son of man” – as a key theme that connects all three readings of the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The influence that the Book of Daniel has on Christianity is profound and indisputable. The New Testament books, particularly some of the Pauline epistles and the Book of Revelation, often take symbols, images, and phrases straight out of Daniel to demonstrate that the Danielic prophecies have come to fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus himself also refers to Daniel on numerous occasions, including calling himself the “Son of man” and linking his own eschatological glory to Daniel’s vision of the Son of man riding on the clouds of heaven (Mt. 24:30, 26:64).

The Church Fathers are quick to recognize the theological significance of the “Son of man” in Daniel’s vision. Ancient Jewish tradition identified this title with a heavenly Messiah (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, comment on Daniel 7:13, p.32). In addition to its messianic implication, the Church Fathers see in this unusual title the mystery of God taking on human nature, and in doing so perfecting and elevating it to a lofty height inconceivable to the human mind and unreachable by mere human efforts. This gives us a more profound understanding of why our “hope in the Lord” will enable us to “soar as with eagles’ wings” (Isaiah 40:31). St. Athanasius explains this overpowering mystery of the divinization of humanity in the most succinct way possible: “The Son of God became the Son of man so that the sons of men could become the sons of God” (CCC 460).

Of all the experiences that Peter encounters on Mount Tabor (generally believed to be the holy site of Transfiguration), he remembers one in particular: the Father’s confirmation of Jesus as “my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (2 Pt 1:17). For Peter, the confirmation is a powerful assurance that enables him to believe “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” cannot be one of those “cleverly devised myths” (2 Pt 1:16).

Finally, we can’t blame Peter for appearing a little overwhelmed, if not downright disoriented, when he proposes to make three tents on the Mount of Transfiguration: “one for [Jesus], one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mt. 17:4). After all, revealed for the eyes of Peter, James and John to behold at the Transfiguration is “a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth” that have proven too much even for Elijah and Moses to see (BXVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, n.35; 1 Kgs 19:13; Ex 33:20-23).

Marriage in the Scriptures

I'd like to forward Bishop Robert Barron's article on marriage for your reading pleasure. It's not long; it's essentially his homily for a married couple. Please follow this link: A Bride and Groom; THE Bride and Groom

Marriage is one of the most prominent and beautiful theme of the Bible, if not the most prominent and beautiful. Coming from Bishop Barron, the reflection is nothing short of eloquent, beautiful and inspirational. But then again, the scriptural theme of marriage is in itself full of eloquence, beauty and inspiration; which is why it continues to capture my imagination and stimulate my deepest yearning for God. After reading so many eloquent and beautiful discourses on marriage by various theologians, among them von Balthasar, St. JPII, Pope Benedict XVI, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Bishop Barron, it's become very clear to me that the true source of their eloquence and beauty is God himself, who is the real author of the Bible and is somehow able to "write history" the way a poet writes poems. I am convinced that the Bible is the most beautiful and eloquent literature ever written in human language. The theme of marriage alone and how it unfolds and navigates beautifully through the Old and New Testament books is sufficient to support my position.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada 150

Born to a Chinese family in the British colony of Hong Kong, I spent my teenage years in an oriental and patriarchal culture that was conditioned, on the one hand, by traditional Confucius and Buddhist values, and shaped, on the other, by the western and Christian way of living due to the influence of the British. At 19, I left the colony to receive university education in Canada. Without knowing it at the time, my departure from my place of birth, meant to be a 4-year hiatus for higher education and better future, turned out to be a permanent exodus that determined not only where I would reside and raise my family for the rest of my life, but also what country my children – and my children’s children – would be proud to call home: Canada.

On this 150th anniversary of my country – the country that extended its welcoming arms and embraced me lovingly 35 years ago when my place of birth rejected me in so many ways, my heart is filled with jubilation and thankfulness: jubilation because this wonderful country of 35 million people is a land uniquely adorned with incredible wonders of nature, enormous resources, polite and pleasant people whose diverse origins are the reason for mutual respect, not conflict, and a constitutional architecture that protects diversity, promotes freedom, and ensures justice and equality under the law; thankfulness because my Canadian citizenship - the immense good and human dignity that it garners - is in the final account not the result of my personal pursuit or anybody's kind assistance but God’s special grace.

Some people see a person’s ethnic and cultural characteristics as the overriding factors that define his national identity, i.e. his country. The absurdity of this view, which we shall call “nationalism of ethnic and cultural identity”, is that, when taken strictly it means Canada is not a real country! With the exception of the aboriginal peoples, the ethnic and cultural origins of the 35 million people in this country are not Canadian, which according to this view means Canada is not their country! To the people who see me in the light of this position, my response is this: as an ethnic Chinese, I pledge my personal allegiance to my Chinese heritage, including my ancestors and 5,000 years of Chinese culture; the former is in my DNA and the latter my heart and sentiments. But as a human being who treasures freedom, dignity, and constitutional rights, as a family person who seeks to marry and raise children, and as a national subject who entrusts his livelihood, health, education, and personal well-being to the governance of a state, I do not hesitate to identify myself wholeheartedly and unreservedly as a Canadian.

The newspaper this morning is like a Charles Dickens novel – a tale of two cities or two places. As celebrations of 150 years get underway here across Canada with fanfare and jubilation, Hong Kong, which is 12 hours ahead in time zone on the other side of the globe, has just finished a solemn remembrance of 20 years of British handover of the colony to China. At this watershed moment of the two places, my heartbeat rises and falls with every jubilation of my country and anxiety of my birthplace….

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Family – a Sweet and Safe Home Base or a Battle Ground?

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…” (Mt 10:37).

“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that…we too might live in newness of life” (Rom 6:4).

If there’s a common thread that connects the above statements from this Sunday’s gospel and second reading, it is the severity of what each demands of us - one seeking the subordination of family relationships to those in God’s Family, the other commanding in us a complete rebirth of self.

As years go by and my relationship with God continues to deepen, it has become more and more obvious – sometimes painfully obvious – to me that the way I live and the values I seek are becoming more and more difficult to fathom, to put it mildly, for many members of my biological family. It isn’t that our relationships have turned sour or adversarial because of my Catholic beliefs. Far from it. If anything, we are only getting closer as we age, sharing a deeper and deeper appreciation of our unique family bond. In fact, for many of them, my determination to live a life with meaning and purpose is something that commands their respect, even if such meaning and purpose are things they cannot relate to or share completely. But there is no denying that our different religious beliefs, or lack of it for some, are causing us to approach life and see things in very different ways.

Growing up from an oriental, patriarchal culture where traditional Confucius family values are dominant and the parent-child relationship of sacred and supreme importance, it’s hard for some family members to understand my Christian disposition that sees my relationship with God as central and all-encompassing. My parents, to whom I’m forever indebted, had always respected my religious beliefs and continued to love me even if such beliefs and theirs did not always jive. Still, looking back so many years later after their departures from this world, I must admit that their respect and love for me were not without some regrets – regrets that somehow some things were less than ideal in our relationship because certain values and expectations of ours were different.

St. John Paul II said, “The history of mankind, the history of salvation, passes by way of the family” (Letter to Families, n.23). Family is in many ways a “training camp” where we learn to iron out our differences with love and tolerance so that we are better prepared to live in love in the heavenly Family of God, the Father. Sometimes the “training process” has become so rough and rigorous that our family may even begin to look more like a battle ground filled with “shell-shocked and injured soldiers” than a sweet and safe home base as it should be. But persist we must where God’s revealed truths and values are at stake, trusting that the willingness of all family members to submit themselves to God’s guidance will somehow bring understanding, respect, and love powerful enough to overcome all conflicts and differences. Let’s “battle on” as family members - with love; persist in our family way - in faith; and look forward to joining God’s Family in heaven one day – out of hope.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

痛苦是「耶穌的吻」

為天主的國度而受苦是極崇高的事,讓人得到像領受了使命般的力量,而願意披荊斬棘,努力堅持下去….

前香港特區行政長官曾蔭權在保釋出獄後的早上,立刻前往教堂參與彌撒,隨行的是保護他的便衣警察。

讓我們先弄清楚:在這裡我們的工作,是為復活節第四主日彌撒讀經做一點反思,我們並非要評論曾蔭權受到的審判是否公平,或他在執政期間是否稱職,也沒有支持或批判他的意思。我們提起香港前領導人這段消息,是因為在這事情上,我們看到一個非常重要的神學議題:在經歷了長期痛苦的煎熬之後;在多次的禱告都好像石沉大海,得不到天主的回應之後;在政治和法律上的爭持和訴訟皆全數敗北,並且被公開羞辱,最後從高位墮下之後,為什麼曾蔭權仍然忠信於天主呢? 天主似乎已經多次離棄了他,為什麼他仍不離不棄地堅守自己的信仰呢?其實這不僅是曾蔭權的問題,而是每一個受苦的信徒的問題 。然而,試問誰人不受苦痛煎熬呢?

雖然這個主日的彌撒讀經的目的,不是要用痛苦作主題來做詳盡的神學講論,但在讀經一中以強而有力的福音宣講來說服了「大約三千人」悔改和受洗的聖伯多祿(宗徒大事錄2:41),在讀經二用同樣深遠的訓誨,使我們明白為什麼這麼多像曾蔭權的基督徒,在苦海沉淪幾乎沒頂時,仍然能繼續信靠天主。聖伯多祿說,因行善而受苦,是中悅天主的事(參閱伯前2:20);然後他總結說:「你們原是為此而蒙受召叫的,因為基督也為你們忍受了痛苦」 (伯多祿前書2:21)。換句話說,對基督徒來說,勇於接受為義而受苦涉及一種個人的信念 -- 一個為了仿傚基督為我們所做的一切而奉行的崇高的召叫。為天主的國度而受苦是極崇高的事,讓人得到像領受了使命般的力量,而願意披荊斬棘,努力堅持下去;那堅信不移的意志,幾近於殉道。

有趣的是,一生生活在極度貧困中,受盡痛苦的煎熬的德蘭修女,同樣地將痛苦視為「耶穌的吻」; 對她來說,痛苦是「天主的恩賜」(M. Gaitley,33 Days to Morning Glory,第69頁)。

如果這領悟聽起來令人不安 - 因為說到底,沒有人會喜歡受苦 - 這個主日的福音這樣安慰我們:耶穌是我們的牧者,我們是祂牧養的羊; 有祂在我們身邊,我們「不怕兇險」(參閱聖詠集23:4)。

(這文章英文原版同日在此網誌刊登。鳴謝《生命恩泉》翻譯組幫助中文翻譯。)

Suffering Is “The Kiss of Jesus”

There is a loftiness to suffering for the kingdom of God that is somehow empowering and sustaining…

The morning after he was temporarily released from prison on bail, the former Hong Kong Chief Executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, headed straight to church to attend a morning Mass - together with an entourage of plain-clothes police bodyguards.

Let’s be clear: This is not the place to debate whether Tsang has been given a fair trial or whether he governed well while in power; nor are we interested in supporting or criticizing him as we reflect on the Mass readings of the 4th Sunday of Easter. Rather, the news about the former leader of Hong Kong is brought up because we see in it a very significant theological issue: After such a long period of suffering, after so many prayers have seemingly gone unanswered, and after so many lost political and legal battles, public humiliations and his eventual fall from grace, why is Tsang still faithful to God? Why doesn’t he abandon his faith when God appears to have abandoned him so many times already? To think about it, the question is a universal one - applicable not only to Tsang but also to all believers who suffer. And let’s face it, who doesn’t?

While it isn’t the intention of this Sunday’s Mass readings to give us a complete theological treatise on the problem of suffering, St. Peter, whose powerful proclamation of the gospel in the first reading has convinced “about three thousand persons” to repent and receive baptism (Acts 2:41), gives us an insightful exhortation in the second reading that enables us to understand why so many Christians like Tsang continue to trust God even when they can barely keep their heads above water. According to St. Peter, suffering for doing what is good is a grace before God (cf. 1 Pt 2:20). “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you,” he concludes (1 Pt. 2:21). Suffering for righteousness, in other words, is courageously embraced by Christians as a personal conviction – a noble calling to follow what Christ has done for all of us. There is a loftiness to suffering for the kingdom of God that is somehow empowering and sustaining, giving a faithful Christian the determination to accept any adversity – a resolve that borders on martyrdom.

Interestingly, Mother Teresa, who lived a life of extreme poverty and for whom suffering appeared to know no bounds, also viewed suffering as “the kiss of Jesus”; to her it was “a gift from God” (M. Gaitley, 33 Days to Morning Glory, p.69).

If such a realization sounds less than comforting – after all, nobody likes suffering – the gospel reading of this Sunday gives us the assurance that Jesus is our shepherd and we are his sheep; we shall fear no harm when he is at our side (cf. Ps. 23:4).

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

「我第三」

Excellent insights from Fr. Francis Wong. Coming from someone who was about to leave this world makes the article even more special and thought-provoking. I agree with Fr. Wong 100% and thank him for leaving us with such a profound reflection before his departure from this world. May the happiness that he discovered by making himself #3 shortly before his death permeate the core of his being and bring him face to face with #1....

E. Lo

慈幼會黃建國神父安息主懷
病榻中談 「無為」與「有為」之用


(公教報副刊) 慈幼會黃建國神父四月廿四日 (今日) 晚上八點多離世。他早前在病榻中為本報撰文談 「無為」與「有為」之用,文章以「我第三」此筆名撰寫首部份,第二部份則解釋為何取此筆名。文章刊於四月十六日公教報。請眾為黃神父靈魂的安息祈禱。——編者

==========

很久前閱讀過一則禪師與徒弟的故事,現在想起來仍是回味無窮。一天,禪師與徒弟往山中一遊,當天風和日麗,陽光普照,藍天白雲,真是遊山玩水的好時光。他們師徒倆不知不覺來到一處森林,空氣清新,很多樹又高又大,非常壯觀,人能在這裡居住一定健康長壽。忽然他們來到一棵又大又老的樹前,令師徒兩人停下來,驚訝、欣賞、讚嘆。禪師問徒弟說:「你看,這棵樹又大又老。你可知道它為何這麼大這麼老嗎?」徒弟回答說:「是呀,師傅。但徒弟實在不知道為何這樣。」禪師說:「好吧!那為師的就告訴你,請細心聽著。它之所以這麼大這麼老,是因為它『一無所用』,如果它『有用』的話,早就被人砍伐下來,做成木板、傢俱、紙張等。就是因為它一無所用,才留到今天,讓你和我都可在它的蔭下乘凉,天上的飛鳥可棲息其中,美化世界,讓地球成為理想的居住地方。」

以前當我閱讀聖經或故事時,都不斷在尋找有啟發的思想,為能作為寫文章或講道的題材,或為了給近人傳福音,但都是為寫給人看、講給人聽。現在想換個角度,只講給自己聽,給自己傳福音,因為「最近的近人」就是自己。

「一無所用」即「無為」being useless,「有用」即「有為」being useful。回想起我整個生命,到我患上癌症為止,都是盡力使自己「有為」being useful。到處奔波勞碌,不斷學習,充實自己,使自己成為對人有用的、有幫助的人。

我在學校服務約共50年,曾做過數學、英文、電腦、體育、倫理、聖經、音樂教師等;負責過圖書館、足球教練、歌詠團指揮;學校行政方面曾任教務主任、訓導主任、宗教主任、寄宿部主任、校長等;又曾在四間慈幼會的工業學校服務,範圍包括二岸三地。被選為神父後,服務範圍又包括身心靈方面,被邀請去講避靜、辦神修及教育講座;在福傳上每主日的講道、每月投稿、製作書籤,身手敏捷、行動迅速到處奔波勞碌開會等,這一切都在表達自己非常重要,就是「有為之用」。

從患癌症後,所有生活步伐都緩慢下來,反應遲鈍,工作被迫減少,一步步退出江湖,少管閒事,成為有心無力、「無為」、「無用」之人。從一個非常忙碌變成很清閒的人,連講道也有心無力,起初感覺非常不習慣,因為一天24小時,無所事事,清閒得要命,每時每刻都在對著自己和天主。天主告訴我:現在我能活多久已不重要,最重要的是祂的旨意承行,完成祂的救恩計劃。

我從來沒想過,原來患癌症也是天主的恩寵。祂給了我很多時間去反省自己的生命,正視我與天主間、我與人之間及我與自己的關係。祂讓我看清楚「無為」和「有為」是什麼。「有為」是發展自我,因此「我」是生命中的主角、中心,當然「我」是首位了。然而「無為」的生命是以天主真正為天主,天主在生命中是主角、中心,祂佔首位。這樣的生活非常吻合耶穌的前驅若翰的生活「祂應該興盛,我卻應該衰微。」(若3:30)原來這也是我在6月24日出世的原因。

我現在體會到「無為」之用,因為祂在我身上會發揮祂最大的功能,不是我生活,而是祂在我身上生活。原來我現在是用另類的模式去福傳,我不用刻意去做什麼「有為」的事,僅是 let it be,接受在我生命所發生的一切,為耶穌而活,與祂一起活,開開心心,以微笑、慈悲心,將天主慈悲的面孔顯示給與相遇的人,讓祂的聖意好像光和鹽,把天主的慈愛,透過「無為」的我毫無保留地滲透到所有人的心靈,產生潛移默化的皈依功效、滋潤生命。我感謝天主的智慧、揀選和恩賜。我又明白到:我的聖洗聖名五傷方濟各的原因,原來我是遍體鱗傷。

我最近閱讀到一個很有啟發的思路方向。想到一種感覺,就是當自己受到人的讚美、贊同、接納、鼓掌、肯定、支持、欣賞時,那種滿足、開心、愉悅的感覺。又想到另一種感覺,就是當我看到日出、日落、自然美景、花草樹木、一本有啟發的書、一齣有意義的電影等時,那稱心、平靜、安寧、和諧愉悅的感覺。相互對比之下,這兩種感覺顯然不同。前者當自己獲他人接納讚賞時,那種快樂是由於自我成就、有用、突出自己的價值;後者那種快樂似乎不知從那兒來,又見不到自己在那裡、有什麼功德。原來前者是以自我為中心、自己掌控一切,後者是以天主為中心、天主掌控一切。前者是自我滿足,後者是天主使我滿足。這是我最大的發現,當然是天主的啟發。沐浴在以天主為中心的世界裡,那種喜樂愉悅是如此清新、純樸、無雜質,是人生最有意義、最大的享受。

——————————————

*我第三*
朋友,我是黃建國神父,筆名「我第三」。為什麼稱為「我第三」呢?它又有什麼意思?我第三之意是:在我生命中,天主第一,你們大家第二,我第三。來源是出自偶然,有一次我遇到一個人心胸掛著一個大牌,上面寫著:我第三。我因為好奇問道:「朋友,我第三是什麼意思?」他答說:「天主第一,你們大家第二,我第三。」從那時起我就把它埋在心裡,時隔一段很長的歲月,最近忽然「我第三」在我腦海掠過,我就把它抓住,回味其意義,就決定這是我的筆名、座右銘提醒我生命應走的方向。

在反省回味當中感到得益無窮,現在與大家分享其來龍去脈。在我自己的生命中,天主不可能會佔首位,因為我無論怎樣都離不了這個「我」、「自己」:我吃飯、睡覺、學習、服務、教書、講道等,都是透過這個「我」去實踐的,怎可能沒有我的分?怎可能不強調「我」、「自己」呢?我為人著想時,也是透過我去思考、透過我的看法、我認為為人好的、有益的才去做。所以我真正生活的次序,剛剛相反,就是:我第一,你們大家第二,天主第三。我覺得這是很自然的排序,沒有什麼不對。

天主有一天對我說:「你的想法完全對。但在人不可能,在天主是可能的 (參閱:谷10:27)。在你生命中當然無法脫離這個『我』,但我說的『我』是以自我為中心,不懂得歸因,把一切都當做理當所然,以為一切你的成功、順利、才華等是出於你這個『我』,其實完全是出自我的慈悲心,給予你一切你所需,所有的機會、方便等。你明白嗎?因為如果你以自我中心,就不會想到我,也不會對我事事感恩。」

朋友,不要誤以為我現在已達到這目標,還相差很遠,還在努力當中。由「有為之用」成為「無為之用」是「我第三」的真實體驗。請大家與我一同努力,把自己的生命逐步成為「我第三」,因為這是我們皈依的方向。

*「我第三」*與大家共勉。(刊 2017-4-16 )

Friday, April 21, 2017

活在前所未見的世代中

(這文章英文原版同日在此網誌刊登。鳴謝《生命恩泉》翻譯組幫助中文翻譯。)

這些恐怖的影像在每個人的腦海裡仍然記憶猶新,揮之不去: 在聖枝主日, 埃及坦塔和亞歷山大兩個城市裡的兩間埃及科普特東正教會教堂,發生兩次爆炸事件, 造成四十四名無辜的人喪生,一百人受傷。而只有四個月前 – 2016年12月11日 – 在開羅一間科普特東正教會教堂亦發生類似的自殺式炸彈事件, 造成二十九人死亡,四十五人受傷。

人習慣了邪惡,這些事情或者已經不再是新聞: 這個月 <國家郵報> 的一篇專題報導,揭露了安大略省一所大學行政階層的偏見, 把尊重生命團體的活動標籤為 「敵對性的」,「挑釁性的」和 「反對選擇權的」。

當今之世,道德相對主義失控般泛濫於學校,媒體,企業和各級政府中。 他們認為每個人都有權跟隨自己所認定的真理。那些堅持自己所相信的是絕對真理,而認為全人類都應當跟隨的,被認定是 「心胸狹窄, 缺乏包容」。天主教會和許多宗教是當中表表者。

相比早期基督徒所面對無日無之的毀謗,鎮壓和迫害,今天基督徒的情況可說比他們好不了多少。 這樣說並沒有誇大其詞。 早期教會用什麼信息來幫助信徒克服逆境呢?有許多信息。而且由於今天教會所面對的困難和早期的教會所面對的有很多相似之處, 當年的信息到了今天仍然適用。以下的主日讀經是其中特別有用的信息之一:

「因此,你們要歡欣,雖然現在你們暫時還該在各種磨練中受苦, 但這是為使你們的信德, 鍛鍊得比經過火煉而仍易消失的黃金更有價值, 使你們在耶穌基督顯現時,得到稱讚,光榮和尊敬。」( 伯多祿前書1:6-7)

我們正活在前所未有的世代中,唯願這不是世界的終結。 伊拉克和敘利亞經歷了多年的緊張狀態和危機後, 亂狀正以恐佈主義的形式和暴徒式的侵略擴散至歐洲和中亞地區, 敘利亞阿薩德用化學武器, 引起西方國家和包括敘利亞阿薩德和伊朗的俄羅斯陣營的正面衝突, 互發最後通牒,擺出各不相讓,不惜一戰的姿態。而在西太平洋, 正蘊釀著同樣激烈甚至更嚴重的危機, 北朝鮮警告美國, 如果美國轟炸其核設施, 北朝鮮會用核武器襲擊南韓, 日本, 和美國大陸。

聖經多處有刻劃入微的描述,預測世界末日的可怕境況。 在現在這些衝突中,祇要一方有計算上或人為的錯誤, 以致在朝鮮半島或中東爆發核戰, 這些聖經中所提及的恐怖場面隨時會變成事實。不知是什麼原因,《 若望默示錄》中的兩個栩栩如生的描述一直存留在我腦海中:

「以後我看見,當羔羊開啟第六個印的時候 ,發生了大地震,太陽變黑,有如粗毛衣;整個月亮變得像血, 天上的星辰墜落在地上………;天也隱退,有如捲起的書卷; 一切山嶺和島嶼都移了本位。……….向山嶺和巖石說:「 倒在我們身上,遮蓋我們罷! 好避免那坐在寶座上的面容和那羔羊的震怒, 因為他們發怒的大日子來臨了,有誰能站立得住?」( 若望默示錄6:12-17)

「在那日期內,人求死而不得;渴望死,死卻避開他們。」(默9: 6))。

正如耶穌在福音讀經中對多默說:「那些沒有看見而相信的, 才是有福的!」(若望福音20:29)。在某種程度上,我們也能看見耶穌,不過不是以多默的方式, 而是以天主聖言和聖體聖事來與耶穌相遇。 我們確實生活在前所未有的世代中。 有可能這真是末日的先兆,雖然我們希望和祈求,最後獲勝的是信靠與和平。不過,祇要耶穌在伯多祿的船上與我們在一 起,陪伴我們抵擋風暴,我們還要害怕什麼(參見瑪竇福音8:23-27)? 「因此,縱使地動山崩,墮入海心,我們也絕不會疑懼橫生; 海濤儘管洶湧翻騰,山嶽儘管因浪震動:與我們同在的, 是萬軍的天主,雅各伯的天主是我們的保護。」(聖詠集46:3- 4)。就讓我們忍耐和接受,其實各種試探都是為了考驗我們,「為使你們的信德,得以精煉」(伯多祿前書1:7)。

Living In Unprecedented Times

The horrific images are still fresh in everyone’s mind: on this Palm Sunday, two Coptic church bombings took place in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt, killing 44 innocent people and injuring more than 100. Only 4 months before, on December 11, 2016, a similar suicide bombing of another Coptic church in Cairo had killed 29 people and injured 45 others.

People have become so accustomed to evils, perhaps this is no longer considered news anymore: in a special report this month, the National Post revealed the biased ideologies of the administration of a university in Ontario that labeled the activities of pro-life groups as “adversarial”, “confrontational”, and “anti-choice”.

Nowadays, moral relativism is running rampant in schools, media, businesses, and all levels of government. Everyone is entitled to uphold their own truths, so it’s claimed. Those who insist the truths in which they believe are absolute and universally applicable, as do the Catholic Church and many religions, are considered “intolerant”.

Compared to the early day Christians, for whom denigration, repression and persecution were the daily norms, it’s no exaggeration to say that today’s Christians are not faring any better. What messages did the early Church give her faithful to help them deal with their adversities at hand? Many. And most of them are still useful for us considering the similarity between the early Church’s difficult experiences and ours. But here’s one from this Sunday’s lectionary readings that is particularly useful:

“In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

We are living in unprecedented times – hopefully not the end of time. After many years of tensions and crises in Iraq and Syria, which have spilled over to the European continent and Asia Minor in many forms of terrorism and rogue invasions, the western countries and the Russian camp, which includes Assad of Syria and Iran, have come to a head over Assad’s chemical warfare, with both sides issuing ultimatums to each other and taking belligerent positions that are difficult to back down. A similar – if not more intense and dangerous – situation has also been developing in the west Pacific where North Korea is threating to “nuke” South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. mainland should the U.S. decide to bomb its nuclear facilities.

The Bible is filled with vivid predictions of the horrific hardships that the world will experience on the Last Day. Many of them bring to mind horrors that may well become a reality should a nuclear war break out due to one single miscalculated threat or human error in the Korean peninsula or in the Middle East. For whatever reason, stuck in my head are two very graphic descriptions in the Book of Revelation:

“Then I watched while he broke open the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; the sun turned as black as dark sackcloth and the whole moon became like blood. The stars in the sky fell to the earth…the sky was divided like a torn scroll curling up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place…They cried out to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come and who can withstand it?’” (Revelation 6:12-17)

“During that time these people will seek death but will not find it, and they will long to die but death will escape them.” (Revelation 9:6)

As Jesus said to Thomas in the gospel reading: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29). In a way, we see Jesus too: not in the manner Thomas encountered him, but in the word of God and the Eucharist. These indeed are unprecedented times that we live in. They may well be the precursors to the Last Day although we hope and pray that trust and peace would somehow prevail. But what are we to fear if Jesus is there with us in Peter’s boat, accompanying us to weather the storm (cf. Matthew 8:23-27)? “Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea, though its waters rage and foam and mountains totter at its surging, the LORD of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob” (Psalm 46:3-4). Let’s hang in there and accept our various trials as a test of “the genuineness of your faith” (1 Peter. 1:7).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

屬神的身體

(這文章英文原版同日在此網誌刊登。鳴謝《生命恩泉》翻譯組幫助中文翻譯。)

四旬期第五主日讀經的反思,使我腦海中浮現著兩個想法:

首先,基督徒認為人的肉身會在末日復活的信念,清楚地貫連著新舊約聖經。這教導的貫徹性正好說明它的重要性,也顯示出它的確是基督徒信仰的核心。 這也解釋了聖保祿在辯說復活時絕不妥協的立場:「我們既然傳報了基督已由死者中復活了,怎麼你們中還有人說:死人復活是沒有的事呢? 假如死人復活是沒有的事,基督也就沒有復活;假如基督沒有復活,那麼,我們的宣講便是空的,你們的信仰也是空的」 (格前15:12-14) 。在四旬期和復活期裡,教會特別紀念耶穌受難和復活,慶祝祂最後戰勝死亡,以擁有神速、神光、神健、神透特恩的肉身,光榮復活。既然如此,這主日聖道禮儀以復活為主題,貫連著三篇選自厄則克耳、羅馬書及若望福音的讀經,也是順理成章的事 (格前15:42-44,《神學大全》I.168 聖湯瑪斯著 ) 。

其次,復活的希望從未停止觸發我們五內中的渴望,我們渴望有一天人可以擺脫身體和靈魂之間的終生對立。這對立令人如此痛苦和氣憤,聖保祿甚至稱之為一場「戰爭」:「可是,我發覺在我的肢體內,另有一條法律,與我理智所贊同的法律交戰,並把我擄去,叫我隸屬於那在我肢體內的罪惡的法律。我這個人真不幸呀!誰能救我脫離這該死的肉身呢?」(羅馬書7:23-24) 原來在復活時,肉身將會以屬神的形式,和諧地與靈魂重新結合,水乳交融。這理解是何等的甜蜜啊!它讓我們釋然,心靈舒暢。據聖若望保祿二世解釋,所謂屬神的身體「不僅意味著靈性將主宰身體的一切,但我會說, 它將完全地滲透著整個身體... 復活是人的肉體性天衣無縫地參與著人靈性上的一切。」(公開接見: 1981年12月9日) 。

「主耶穌,你來罷!」即阿拉美語的Maranatha! 是教會對她至愛的新郎所說的,最後一句情話。在若望的神視和默示文體中,教會被描繪為新娘,悠長的救恩史也在新娘對新郎如癡如醉的呼喚中徐徐結幕 (默示錄 22:20)。就讓我們與教會一起呼喚新郎,我們的主耶穌基督:M-A-R-A-N-A-T-H-A! 主耶穌,你來罷! 我們渴望復活。在那一天,我們被救贖了和屬神的身體,將與靈魂結合,恢復完美和諧; 在那一天,天主在起初已預告了的,婚姻是丈夫和妻子二人結合而成為一體的預言,將滿全於教會與基督的完美結合之中!


The Spiritualization of the Body

Two ideas have crossed my mind as I reflect on the Mass readings of the 5th Sunday of Lent:

First, the Christian conviction that the human body will be resurrected on the last day is consistently taught throughout the Scriptures, both New Testament and Old. Such consistency speaks to the centrality and significance of this teaching in the Christian faith. It also explains St. Paul’s uncompromising position in defending resurrection: “But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith” (1 Cor 15: 12-14). In this special season of Lent and Easter that celebrates Jesus’ passion and eventual triumph over death in the form of a glorious and resurrected body of agility, clarity, impassibility, and subtility, it comes as no surprise that resurrection is the common thread connecting the selected passages of Ezekiel, Romans, and John in this Sunday’s liturgy of the word (1 Cor 15:42-44, St. T. Aquinas, The Compendium of Theology, I.168).

Second, the hope of resurrection never ceases to trigger in us a deep yearning for the day when all of humanity will be freed from the life-long opposition between the body and the spirit - an opposition so painful and exasperating that St. Paul called it a “war”: “I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” (Romans 7:23-24) Sweet and liberating is the realization that in the resurrection, the body, in its spiritualized form, will return to perfect unity and harmony with the spirit. According to St. John Paul II, spiritualization of the body “means not only that the spirit will dominate the body, but, I would say, that it will fully permeate the body… The resurrection will consist in the perfect participation of all that is physical in man in what is spiritual in him” (General Audience, December 9, 1981).

“Come, Lord Jesus!” or Maranatha! in Aramaic is the very last word of love uttered by the Church, portrayed as a bride in John’s apocalyptic vision, to her Beloved Groom in concluding the long history of salvation (Revelation 22:20). Together with the Church, let’s call out to the Groom, our Lord Jesus Christ: M-A-R-A-N-A-T-H-A! Come, Lord Jesus! We long for the day of the resurrection – the day our body, redeemed and spiritualized, returns to perfect unity and harmony with the spirit; the day God’s prophetic word in the beginning about marriage as husband and wife becoming one body is perfectly fulfilled in the union of Christ and his Church!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

慕道者的見證

很多人可能覺得很多信主的人,就像以下見證的慕道者一樣「幼稚」,甚麽事情和遭遇都説與天主有關。但是信德本來就是這麽「幼稚」,更好説信德難能可貴之處正在於「簡單」或「單純」。難怪耶穌說天國是屬於小孩子的。也難怪聖經常用婚姻來比喻人神關係,因為夫婦間的關係正建基於彼此簡單的相信。

是幼稚也好,是單純也好,這位慕道者心靈平安,充滿喜樂,是不能否定的事實,這平安喜樂是千金難買的。你在尋找平安喜樂嗎?跟隨她做個小孩子,簡單地相信和交託吧!

説這位慕道者簡單又不是完全簡單,因為她所領悟並能活出的,对痛苦的接纳和承擔,正是主基督面对十字架苦難的偉大情懷。( 耶穌對門徒說:「誰若願意跟隨我,該棄絕自己,背著自己的十字架來跟隨我。瑪16:24)。

還要指出的是,在她因病而被迫放下繁忙緊張,日做夜做的工作後,才能體驗從未體驗過的愛和親情。多少人仍在繁忙緊張,日做夜做的工作的奴役中失去了或未能真正體驗到愛和親情,和未能得到真理?他們在生命完結時才發觉自己一無所有,因為到頭來自己花了一輩子光陰去經營的工作和事業,原來是没有永恆價值的。 如訓道篇說:「虚而又虚,万事皆虚。人在太阳下辛勤劳作,为人究有何益﹖」(訓1:2-3)

請細看以下這感人和真摯的見證。

主內,

Edmond Lo



ㄧ個慕道者的分享:

我是程小慧 Daisy Ching - 慕道者,去年7月開始上堂,明年復活節受洗。

2015年10月,在毫無徵兆的情況下,妹妹患上肺癌並擴散到全身的淋巴。一個月後,我咳血入院檢驗,同妹妹一樣被診斷患上肺癌,癌細胞已擴散至股骨同肝。

由我倆姊妹患肺癌開始,苦難不停敲門。我們的病讓家人很擔心,可能太擔心的原故,媽咪去年5月中風,中間幾次跌倒,去年聖誕日因為急性腦出血離世。妹妹的肺癌很兇猛,醫生用盡不同的藥:化療、電療,甚至最新的免疫治療和標靶藥,中間有幾個月轉好,但最後癌細胞上了腦,在媽咪走後3個禮拜,即今年1月16號被天主接回天家。

前後15個月,治療肺癌又同時經歷了媽咪、妹妹的患病和離世,雖然一生也經歷過高低起跌,但從未如此辛苦;以為過了關,每個月又有新的難關,一關又一關看不見盡頭,看不見出路卻看到了天主,看到祂的愛!

苦難的路也是天主與我同行的路,整理幾個刻骨銘心的領悟,好能夠在日後的路上自我提醒,今天就與大家分享:

歷盡苦難 嚐到甘飴
我們家五兄妹,我排第二,有一個哥哥,三個妹妹。患肺癌的妹妹排中間,她是我家唯一一個天主教徒。雖然沒有信仰維繫,我們家人的感情非常親密,每星期一家人齊齊整整,煮煮飯、聊聊天,我們認為人生最開心不過如此。

自己患癌不是最苦的,看住最親愛的妹妹和媽咪病比自己病要痛苦很多很多。妹妹媽咪也是一樣,不為自己哭卻反而為我哭。

如果可以的話最好不要病,人生就是無常,生病就是無奈,這事我們都不能選!沒時間沒有機會抱怨,三個人中,我的情況比較好,我不單不抱怨反而感恩能同妹妹媽媽一起病:
- 如果不病就不會有時間,陪伴照顧她們。工作一直佔了我很多時間,所謂的身不由己,把工作放得很前,就是太前,不知不覺把同家人的時間縮短。第一次有這麼多時間,可以隨傳隨到。
- 如果不病就不能感同身受,打化療的副作用,如何沒胃口,妹妹的痛也就是我的痛。
- 病讓我和家人更親密,一家人互相支持和愛護,哭泣中也有不少開心的時刻,還記得哥哥吹saxophone給妹妹聽,小妹妹買了花,妹妹開心到立刻起床,我們一起聊天講笑,就好像平時一樣。
- 我很久很久沒有同媽咪花那麼多時間傾偈,傾到開心處,媽咪甚至唱歌我聽,還記得媽咪生病時在醫院回眸一笑的樣子,就是一個天使。
- 類似這些帶著眼淚的歡愉,數不勝數,很感動很讓我回味。
但願我記得的不只是苦痛,而是苦中嚐到的甘甜,這都是出於天主的體諒憐憫和他為我量身定制的恩寵。

因為無助 所以感動
一直認為沒有做不到的事,只有有決心、做好計劃、努力幹,nothing is impossible!
為照顧妹妹,我徹夜不眠,安排第二天的飯餐,目的就是想妹妹食多一點點,哪怕只是一點點。可是妹妹卻一天比一天瘦弱,心好痛,無論多努力,甚麼都幫不上。
每次彌撒唱到「天主求你垂憐」眼淚就不停的流,人生第一次從心底承認自己的無能無力無助,第一次俯伏於天主前,祈求天主可憐我這個卑微的人。
後來在慕道班,導師講解創世紀和人的原罪,一個當頭棒喝,憑自己做好人,一直引以為傲,在天主面前只是驕傲自大。
同妹妹分享這個領悟,妹妹就笑,「你依家至知嗎?」
到依家返彌撒時,祈求上主垂憐的時候,還是會感到內心被觸動很想哭。

但願以後都不會忘記這個感召,永遠都記得原來的我是多麼的不配,不是我有甚麼德行,也不是我有多能幹,天主的垂顧是白白的恩賜。

天主計劃 超乎想像
沒想到死亡可以這樣近,來不及思考準備,就臨危受命。

表面看來事出突然,但一切的發生又好像已預先安排妥當。

我的病沒有令我太辛苦。雖然我是姐姐,我人生最重要的事都是跟著妹妹:買樓、移民、買保險、甚至肺癌同返聖堂。唔知點解會病,但唔知點解又不用擔心醫藥費、找哪位醫生,妹妹就在我前面預備我要走的路。

這段日子就是有太多的「唔知點解」...
我們的醫生是天主教徒,妹妹最後入院前是醫生太太安排傅油,妹妹那天突然很清醒,做到告解又領聖體,之後突然問「咁媽咪呢?」。
同一個星期媽咪入醫院,竟然為媽咪找到牧師為她洗禮,而在她臨終時,我們就一直念著妹妹傅油時嘉神父教我們念的慈悲寸經,因為經文就一早準備好在衣袋裡。

媽咪走得很突然,但她沒有經歷妹妹離世的傷痛;妹妹在媽咪離開那段日子,因為癌細胞上腦,對很多事情不能理解,所以也沒有經歷媽咪離世的悲哀。許多的唔知點解下,終於開始明白到天主的安排如何的周詳如何的精密,無懈可擊,無話可說。

天主的計劃,超乎我們的想像,要成就的事,非是人的力量能達成,亦非人的力量能夠阻擋。

縱使不能參透,但相信天主的安排一定是最好的。而天主也定必用最明顯的方式讓我們看到他的計劃。

但願我繼續持有開放的心,期待天主用我成就他在其他人的計劃,就像他用了媽咪妹妹和身邊這麼多的人,成就了我的救贖。

重整生命 仰賴天主
我既是病人又是照顧者,我這特殊的身份讓我體驗到在照顧人的過程中的治癒力 - 明明在照顧媽咪同妹妹,卻反過來是她們照顧了我,這經歷很微妙,能夠放下自己的痛苦,為別人付出,付出越大竟然自己的收穫越大。

很珍惜能服侍家人的機會,開始把自己放低,少一些自以為是,多一點體諒,愛心不足 - 這正正是我最大的缺點,這段日子試過勇敢地道歉、試過放下自己的怒氣、耐心聆聽和感受,得到家人很積極的回應。但願我繼續遵從耶穌的教導,懷著謙卑的心待人。

曾經有好朋友同我說,唔知點解,你這條路咁難行?
我說,因為是我的緣故,不是這樣,如此頑固的我如何能察覺自己的問題,又如何能改?

最近有基督徒朋友分享了她的苦難,和最新的情況,我發現我們不約而同的在苦難後養成習慣舉目看天,因為感到和天主更接近,而媽媽和妹妹也就在天主旁邊。

愛大於一切
今年的是苦難後過的第一個四旬期,經歷了親人的死亡讓我更深體會到耶穌的聖死。
看著生命離開肉軀,面容續漸扭曲變灰,媽媽和妹妹離世的景象歷歷在目;耶穌聖死的影像變得立體更有血有肉,第一次感受到耶穌死亡的痛苦,看著十字架上耶穌胸膛流的血想哭⋯⋯而他受這樣的苦難就是為了背負我們的罪,如此憨居的愛也是最大的愛。

苦難的確把我和耶穌拉近,讓我更感受他的愛,我已經背起了我的十字架,讓我學習耶穌的愛,這條路不容易走,但已經不能回頭。

往前走⋯⋯
上個月,最新的CT scan 報告出來了,感謝天主,我的肺癌終於受到控制,家人朋友都非常高興。
苦難翻開了我人生的新一頁,耶穌許多的教導尚在學習階段,但願一切的苦難能成為我一生的烙印,時刻提醒我活好每一天,天天與主在一起,直到生命的終結。

最後希望用這經文總結,是妹妹的requiem mass 所用的經文
羅馬書 8:35-39
然而,靠著那愛我們的主,我們在這一切事上,大獲全勝,
因為我深信:無論是死亡,是生活,是天使,是掌權者,是現存的或將來的事物,是有權能者,
是崇高或深遠的勢力,或其他任何受造之物,都不能使我們與天主的愛相隔絕,即是與我們的主基督耶穌之內的愛相隔絕。

Friday, February 3, 2017

時光倒流五十年

準備晚飯時外母突然來電說她不適,我和太太立即駕車去看她,並带了点麵包在路上吃,以免肚餓。

外面天氣寒冷,街燈照耀著黑暗的街道。放工時候的交通特別繁忙,紅色的車尾燈和刺眼的車頭燈在四週風馳而過。我一面吃麵包,腦海裡一面泛起了一幕幕小時熟識的生活片段。差不多五十年了,那情景卻仿如昨天。

初中時,爸爸每晚都駕車接送我、大姊和二姊三人放學。記憶中,香港冬天同樣寒冷黑暗,街燈同樣淡淡地照耀著,四週也同樣車水馬龍。坐在車廂內,我们吃的不是麵包,是燙手的上海菜肉包,蔥油餅,還有百力茲,維他奶等,像開大食會般。揸車的當然不是我,是爸爸。他很少吃我们的零食,也不説話。但明顯地他非常喜歡我们那麼熱鬧 - 或說那麽胡鬧,有時我們爭吵,甚至打架,他也若無其事。

時光倒流,轉眼五十年。駕車的爸爸今已不在,三個哇鬼也徐徐老矣,天崖若比鄰,分處美、加、台灣。百力茲?已沒吃幾十年。這個晚上,駕車的是我,比當年駕車的爸爸年紀還大,獨個兒在沉思默想。一切仍然瀝瀝在目,但已經那麽遙遠;情景仍然是那麽親切和熟識,但已人面全非...。

太太給外母擦了十字油,換過衣服。老人家吃過熱飯後,已舒服了很多。寫於回家後。

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

基督是我們的光

(這是甲年常年期第五主日彌撒讀經的反思。英語原文在一月廿五日刊登。鳴謝生命恩泉工作人員幫助翻譯。)

我作夢也沒想過自己竟然會參加了世界青年節。雖然我算是一名「主日教友」,我一向並不怎樣擁戴天主教會,她的教導似乎與世界脫節,在照顧教友方面亦似乎極為專制。 此外,我結婚多年,已是兩個十多歲孩子的父親,並非一個終日和年青人一起的「青春派」。 但在2002年夏天一個風雨交加的早上,才清晨六時,我竟然在多倫多Downsview公園,和超過八十五萬朝聖者,我的妻子和一位基督教朋友一起喜樂地唱歌,祈禱和欽崇天主。那位基督教朋友要求我帶他一起去見教宗,否則他可能永遠沒有機會見到教宗。就這樣,我們參加了2002年教宗在多倫多Downsview主持的世青彌撒!

我所認識的天主聖神,是歷久常新,不斷使人驚訝的。就在我個人事業開始起飛,對靈性追求提不起勁的時候,聖神卻在此時賜給我一個刻骨銘心和漫長的心靈改造的經歷,助我「重回正軌」。說起來有點難以置信,但在2002年世青舉行時,我已搖身一變成為一個堅定的,捍衛天主教會的人,義無反顧地愛上了羅馬宗座,尤其是當時的教宗聖若望保祿二世,他的教導是使我這迷途羔羊轉變的關鍵。

「世上的光,地上的鹽,同驅走了黑暗,帶領分享愛心」。即使多年之後,在我反思今個主日讀經時,2002年的世青主題曲仍然清晰明亮地在我心裡迴響著。強風凜冽,天色灰暗嚇人,坐在看似脆弱不穩,臨時搭建的祭台上,教宗氣定神閒地說:「親愛的年輕人,不要滿足於不是最高的理想!」雖然我不再年輕,但因著聖神的推動,和心靈改造的激勵,我的心像初生之犢,渴求慈母教會給我更多的滋養。 我小心咀嚼教宗所說的每一個字,他的訓導指向耶穌的山中聖訓:「你們是地上的鹽... 你們是世界的光」(瑪竇福音5:13-14)。

基督是光,是「在起初」 當 「大地還是混沌空虛,深淵上還是一團黑暗」(創1:1-2)時己在照耀的創造之光; 是先知依撒意亞預視的,「射在那寄居在漆黑之地的人們身上」(依9:1)的希望之光; 是那照耀天主之城使之不需要太陽月亮光照的永恆之光(默21:23)。基督是我們的光,在這個主日,祂召叫我們要將祂的光來照亮他人,不是用言語,而是身體力行:「把食物分給飢餓的人,收容流浪的窮人, 當你遇見赤身露體的人, 你要給他衣服,不可忽略你的同胞。若這樣,你將會光芒四射,有如黎明......」(依58:7-8)。藉着我們所行的哀矜神工(慈善事業),我們光芒四射。末日己近,不容蹉跎,讓我們捲起衣袖,起來行動吧!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Christ Is Our Light

(This is a reflection on the Mass readings of the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 5, 2017; Is 58:7-10, 1 Cor 2:1-5, Mt 5:13-16)


Never in my wildest dream had I envisioned myself participating in the World Youth Day. While a regular Sunday Catholic, I had not been much of a fan of the Catholic Church, which had seemed so out of step with the world in its teachings and downright authoritarian in overseeing its members. Also, as a married man for years and a father of two teens, I wasn’t exactly the youthful kind of adult who was drawn to the young people like iron fillings to a magnet. But there I was, against all odds, on the grounds of the Downsview Park at 6 a.m. on a rainy and stormy day in the summer of 2002, singing, praying, and worshiping joyfully among 850,000 plus pilgrims, together with my wife and a Protestant friend who asked me to bring him along to see the Pope whom he otherwise would never be able to see. There we were, attending the papal Mass of the 2002 WYD in Downsview, Toronto!

If there’s anything I’ve learnt about the Holy Spirit, it’s that He's the creative, playful and divine Third Person who never ceases to amaze. Just when my personal career was about to take off and at a time when serious spiritual pursuits were the last thing on my mind, He put me through a powerful and lengthy process of spiritual conversion that really “fixed me up”. By the time the 2002 WYD took place, I had become – yes, you’d better believe it! - a staunch defender of the Catholic Church who had fallen in love head over heels with the Roman Papacy, especially the Pontiff of the day, St. John Paul II whose teaching was key in turning me around as a lost sheep.

The light of the world, the salt of the earth. We scatter the darkness when love becomes our way... So many years later, the theme song of the 2002 WYD still resonates loud and clear in my heart as I reflect on this Sunday’s readings. “Dear young people, do not be content with anything less than the highest ideals!” intoned the Holy Father, seated on a make-shift stage that almost looked fragile and creaky in the howling winds and under a threatening sky. Young people I was not, but stirred by the Holy Spirit and fired up by the experience of the conversion, my heart was young as a puppy and my desire was for the Mother Church to feed me more. I minced carefully every word the Holy Father said which harkened back to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Mt. 5:13-14).

Christ is the light, the light of creation “in the beginning” that shone when “the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss” (Gen 1:1-2); the light of hope as envisioned by the Prophet Isaiah that would shine “upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom” (Is. 9:1); the light of eternity that made the sun and the moon unnecessary and lit up the City of God (Rev 21:23). Christ is our light. We are called this Sunday to shine with his brightness, not in word alone, but in action: “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn…” (Is 58:7-8). That - through our works of mercy - is how we shine. Wait no more for the end is near. Let’s roll up our sleeves and work on it now!


Monday, January 9, 2017

在聖經裡找尋希望,承諾和未來

(此文英文版原文發表於十二月廿七日。鳴謝《生命恩泉》翻譯組幫助翻譯成中文。這主日讀經反省,來自主顯節主日慶典。)

當我在加拿大大學畢業後,回到香港生活那四年可算是我人生中的一個最低點。說來奇怪,我本是香港土生土長,但讀完大學後,卻發覺自己和這都市匆忙的步伐和社會風氣,格格不入。我不斷尋求問題的解脫,但卻一無頭緒。後來,藉着天主的恩寵,我移民加拿大的申請出乎意料地被批准了。接到消息的時候,我像走出了過去四年的困局,整個世界忽然間充滿了生氣。婚姻,深造,事業,家庭 — 這些因為前途不明朗而無限期地被擱置的關鍵性計劃,忽然間都可以全速進行了。當人生充滿希望和承諾,前景一片明朗的時候,生命是何等甜蜜啊。

如果在此塵世生命裡,希望,承諾和清晰的未來是那麽重要,試想想,在面對抽象的永生奧蹟時,能同樣地擁有希望,承諾和清晰的未來,豈不是更重要嗎?能引領我們達至永福的真希望和真承諾, 何處可尋?我們的未來, 如何肯定?這些都是歷代的優秀學者和哲學家都不能回答的問題。但擁有赤子之心的人會發現,其實答案就在聖經內。聖經裡面到處都是希望和承諾,讓大家清楚知道,人當何去何從。

主顯節的彌撒讀經,充分表現了聖經在希望和承諾上的重要性。在讀經一,《第三依撒意亞》(一般相信是依撒意亞的門徒在重建耶路撒冷聖殿時寫的) 給猶大保證,充軍後的日子 , 雖然充滿哀傷紛亂, 但耶路撒冷的光輝日子就會來到。耶路撒冷不但會從多年的頹垣敗瓦中重建復興,她還要成為照耀天下萬民的光輝。

照耀天下萬民的光輝? 說來容易。耶路撒冷卑微破敗, 實在需要奇蹟才能成為天主藉《第三依撒意亞》所應許的光榮皇冠。

好!我們尋找奇蹟,也要喜獲奇蹟。原來,那應許已應驗於耶穌為救贖和成聖天下萬民而建立的教會, 那唯一,至聖,至公(普世,為天下萬國),從宗徒傳下來的教會;那基督為王的教會。所以,在 < 答唱詠>,我們歌頌:「上主,普世萬民都來朝拜你」(詠 72:11); 而聖保祿在讀經二亦分享了同樣的希望和承諾:「藉着福音,外邦人在基督耶穌內與猶太人同為繼承人,同為一體,同為恩許的分享人。」(弗3:6)

說得動聽,但那要來行使奇蹟的救世主身在何方? 在福音讀經我們聽到,祂就在那裡,就是那「黑落德為王時,… 誕生在猶大的白冷」(瑪2:1) 的耶穌聖嬰,天下萬邦的救主;祂就在那裡, 那顆曾是先知巴郎預言, 由雅各伯出現的星, 正閃爍在祂那貧窮謙卑的出生地上空; 祂就在那裡,在祂面前俯袱朝拜的是從東方來的賢士,他們代表着直至地極的天下萬國,他們帶着全人類的尊崇敬意,走向基督。(參看教宗本篤十六世著《納匝肋人耶穌: 嬰孩時代的故事》第97頁)

希望,承諾和未來可以在日常生活中經歷到,也可以由聖經帶給我們,兩者似乎一樣,其實不盡相同。兩者雖然都能給我們鼓舞和保證,但只有後者才能完全肯定和保證應驗,因為「這些話都是可信而真實的」(默22:6) 。