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



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) 。