Monday, June 30, 2014

The Bible Study Program - A Summer Farewell

But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:16)

Last Friday evening marked the end of another fruitful year of the CMCC Bible Study Program (BSP). How appropriate it was that we concluded our study of the Letter of Romans with St. Paul’s exhortation for those proclaiming the Good News of the Lord to see their ministry of evangelization as a ”priestly service of the gospel of God” that turns the unbelievers into sacrifices sanctified by the Holy Spirit and acceptable to God (cf. Rom 15:16).

Evangelization is priestly because it is a sacrificial act in which the evangelizer is the celebrant and the unbelievers the sacrifice. Having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, they become spiritual offerings that are pleasing and acceptable to God!

Evangelization is liturgical because through its visible catechetical rites and activities, the unbelievers receive the invisible grace of wisdom and faith, and are granted the priceless privilege of becoming sons and daughters of God!

My fellow workers in the harvest fields of the Lord, let us work hard in performing "the priestly service of the gospel of God". But whether we choose to join or just sit on the sideline, the liturgy of evangelization has been unfolding for 2000 years, turning gradually all of mankind into spiritual offerings pleasing and acceptable to God!

Partly because of the excitement of sharing the above Pauline teaching, and partly because of physical exhaustion caused by the singing and festivity of the farewell celebration, I was unable to fall asleep Friday night until almost 4:30 a.m.! Three hours later, I woke up violently like a cardiac arrest patient jolted back into consciousness by his surgeon. Shocked and disoriented, I was devastated to discover that my ride to a weekend retreat was already waiting for me on my driveway!

In spite of the mishap, for which I have only myself to blame, my heart is still bursting with delight and elation from last Friday; grateful for all the work that the BSP volunteers did to give us such a beautiful summer farewell; thankful to God for giving the BSP community the wonderful blessing of growing spiritually in the word of God for 12 consecutive years and counting. On behalf of the BSP Planning Committee, I’d like to express my heart-felt gratitude to all the BSP volunteers whose contribution and self-emptying have made the BSP do-able, sustainable, and fruitful.

Have a safe and blessed summer, all BSP volunteers and participants! Come September, we will gather again to pray and study the Psalms, through which the universal voice of mankind is raised in unison to express our longing to see God face to face!

NOTE: If you are interested in joining next year's BSP on the Psalms (our first meeting will be Friday, Sept 26, 2014), we are beginning to accept on-line registrations. Click this link to submit your registration: BSP On-Line Registration.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thinking About The Roman Catholic Church on This Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
Readings: Acts 12:1-11; 2 Tim 4:6-8, 17-18; Mt. 16:13-19

St. Irenaeus, a 2nd century Church Father, had this to say about the church of Rome: “the very great, the very ancient and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.” He added: “with this church, by reason of its more excellent origin every church must agree…the tradition which comes from the apostles has been preserved” (Against the Heresies 3.3.2.)

On this coming Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul, Irenaeus’ eloquent and much-quoted statement and similar statements made by other early Church Fathers that testified to the pre-eminence or even primacy of the church of Rome among other Christian and apostolic church communities find their resonance in the Gospel reading where Peter, the first leader of the Church after Christ, was made the “rock” upon which the Church of Christ would be built. “Rock” (or other words carrying the same conceptual meaning) is a very important scriptural word used in many places in the Old Testament to signify the Messiah. For example: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). Christ, the Messiah, is the rock; in renaming Simon as “Peter” – “rock” – he made Peter his representative; he appointed Peter as the foundational leader of his Church.

In fact, the resonance turned into thundering when Jesus - the Lord of lords and King of kings (Rev 17:14) whose Kingdom of Heaven the kingdom of David prefigured and anticipated - gave Peter the “keys” that carried the complete and undeterred authority of binding and loosing. In a similar manner, the keys of the Davidic dynasty were given to Eliakim to allow him to govern Israel with absolute authority (Isaiah 22:20-22).

Today after 2000 years of Church history, sitting on the Chair of St. Peter is his 266th successor, Pope Francis. On this coming Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul, we Roman Catholics have every reason to rejoice and thank God in unison with the psalmist who sings in jubilation:

How numerous, O Lord, my God, you have made your wondrous deeds!
And in your plans for us there is none to equal you.
Should I wish to declare or tell them, too many are they to recount
(Ps. 40:6)

Top among God’s wondrous deeds that stand to be counted by us Roman Catholics is the special grace of being members of the Roman Catholic Church - “the very ancient and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.”

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Trinity Sunday Reflection (聖三主日的反思)

Trinity Sunday Readings:
Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
John 3:16-18

In the first reading of the Trinity Sunday, the God revealed to Moses was “merciful and gracious…slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity” (Ex. 34:6); and Moses himself was depicted as a mediator for Israel, pleading for God to pardon the wickedness and sins of his “stiff-necked people” (cf. Ex. 34:9).

Like the first light of dawn, which gives us but a glimpse of the radiance of the midday sun; the images of a merciful God and a mediating Moses in the Old Testament are in fact the precursors of more significant figures waiting to be fully revealed in the New Testament.

In the gospel reading, God’s mercy finds its full manifestation in an astounding act of love: “he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16). Similarly, Moses’ mediation is given a definitive meaning in the mediation of Christ, who is the “one Mediator between God and men” (1 Tim 2:5), “the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through [him]” (John 14:6).

The Trinity Sunday brings to mind, in particular, our inability to articulate this profound mystery. Acutely aware, as we are, of the need to “encourage one another, agree with one another, [and] live in peace” so that “the God of love and peace will be with [us]” (2 Cor 13:11); humbled as mere mortals by this profound mystery; we invoke the presence of the Trinity in our community of faith using the Trinitarian greeting in the closing words of the second reading: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13)!

Following close on the heels of Pentecost, the Trinity Sunday is a special time for us to reflect. Pentecost has a special meaning for the FLL ministry: for our staff, for our volunteers, and for all of you, our supporters. It is a time before which we prepare and surrender ourselves awaiting God's promise; during which we are transformed, renewed, and empowered; after which we move out of our own egoistic self and comfort zone, committing ourselves as disciples and teaming up with others in the community to fearlessly proclaim His love to the world.

How did you celebrate Pentecost this year? Now that we have experienced the outpouring of the Spirit, let's reflect and internalize the meaning of Pentecost in our hearts, and make this Pentecost a transformational experience in our journey of faith. In transforming ourselves, we also transform the whole Chinese community of faith. As we embark on another ten years of humble service of evangelizing to the Chinese community, every one of us in the FLL ministry can and must continue to contribute to this beautiful communal transformation. We owe this to our Mother Church; most of all, we owe it to those who have been deprived of the joy and power of the Gospel message due to various reasons.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in the Upper Room is a powerful communal experience. Now we feel empowered as a community to embark on another 10 years of evangelization. We are determined to follow the will of the Father, enthused to say YES to the Son, and inspired to embrace the Holy Spirit who, like the wind, “blows where it wills” (John 3:8).

(Acknowledgement: This Sunday reflection was co-authorized by Edmond Lo and Paul Yeung.)


出谷紀 34:4-6, 8-9
格林多人後書 Corinthians 13:11-13
約望福音 3:16-18

在天主聖三主日的第一篇讀經,顯現給梅瑟的天主,是「慈悲寬仁... 緩於發怒,富於慈愛忠誠」(出34:6) 的; 而梅瑟則被描繪為以色列的中保,懇求天主寬免祂「執拗的百姓」(出34:9) 的過犯和罪惡。


在今天的福音中,天主的慈悲在一個令人驚訝的,愛的行動中充分地表現出來:「祂甚至賜下了自己的獨生子,使凡信祂的人不至喪亡,反而獲得永生」(若3:16) 。同樣,梅瑟的轉求,被身為「在天主與人之間只有一個的中保」(弟前2:5), 並且是「道路、真理、生命,除非經過我,誰也不能到父那裡去」的基督(若14:6) ,肯定了它的真正意義。

天主聖三主日讓我們更強烈地感受到這不可說明的奧秘,在它面前我們變得啞口無言。我們清楚知道,「要服從勸勉,要同心合意,『和』要彼此和睦」,這樣,「仁愛與平安的天主必與『我們 』同在」(格後13:11); 這奧秘讓人感到渺少和謙遜,驚嘆生命的短暫。藉著第二篇讀經最後的聖三祝福,讓我們祈求天主聖三的臨在,光照我們的信仰團體:「願主耶穌基督的恩寵,和天主的愛情,以及聖神的相通,常與你們眾人相偕。」(格後13:13)

在聖神降臨節後接踵而來的聖三主日是一個特別的日子,讓我們好好地反省一下。聖神降臨對<生命恩泉>的職員、義工、以及所有支持者,都具有特殊意義。在這時刻前, 我們應作好準備,獻出自已, 來等待天主的應許;在這時刻中,我們要蛻變、更新、和領受新的動能;在這時刻後, 我們要忘我地, 不貪求安逸地, 用跟隨天主的決心, 聯同主內的兄弟姊妹,勇敢地向世界宣揚主的愛。

你今年是怎麼渡過聖神降臨節呢?現在,我們旣領受了聖神所傾注的恩寵,就讓我們好好反思一下聖神降臨節的意義,並將一切默存心中,使這個聖神降臨節成為我們信仰旅程中的一個轉捩點。當我們改造自己的時候,我們也改造了整個天主教華人團體。在未來的十年裡, 讓我們懷著謙卑的心, 在華人團體內繼續做福傳服務。我們<生命恩泉>裡每一個成員都可以而且必須繼續為改變天主教華人團體而作出貢獻。這樣做, 是我們為慈母聖教會應盡的義務; 為那些因為種種原因而被剝奪了接受福音的喜樂和力量的人,這義務更急不容缓。

聖神降臨是門徒們作為一個信仰團體所經歷的,一個強而有力的體驗。同樣地,作為一個信仰團體,我們因著聖神的力量,已充滿了新的能量,去面對未來十年的福傳工作。我們堅決遵從天父的聖意,對聖子熱誠地作出正面回應,並衷心擁抱著像風一樣「隨意向那裡吹」 的 聖神(若望福音3:8)。

(這主日讀經分享由Edmond Lo 和 Paul Yeung 共筆。)