Saturday, May 30, 2020

Pentecost Sunday 2020

Holy Spirit as Dove (detail)
Gian Lorenzo Bernini / Public domain




It is often remarked that the coming of the Holy Spirit is the counter to the Tower of Babel. In the story of the Tower of Babel, God scattered humanity throughout the world by giving human beings different languages. The effect of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was that people from different places could understand the one message of the disciples.

When one considers the Christians living in different parts of the world, we are united under the banner of Christ because, like the people in Jerusalem that first Pentecost, we believe in the same one message of Christ. For Catholics, the signs of this unity is even more evident. When we go to a different country, e.g. Italy, where the culture and language are different, we find that we are able to follow in the Eucharistic celebration. The rites are the same, despite the differences in the language. We might not be able to recite the prayers in the same language, but we are reasonably sure that we are reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or the Lamb of God. It is the same Spirit that makes us children of God by the same one sacrament of baptism. When we sin, we estrange ourselves from God and other Christians, and are in need of reconciliation. In the gospel reading today, we hear Jesus breathing on the apostles and telling them to “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (Jn 20:23) Jesus continues to tell them that they have the power to forgive sins. Catholics believe that it is here that Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It can be seen that the Holy Spirit enables the obstacles to unity to be removed.

Many of the obstacles to unity are not physical ones. How often have we experienced being in a room of people and yet feel lonely? Connection to others may not be present because of shyness, and shyness is not a physical barrier. In this time when we are encouraged to practise social distancing for the good of everyone, we can use other means to connect. Although these ways of connecting may not be ideal, our care and concern for the common good and for others is a sign that we are connected. When we are indifferent to the situation, and are concerned only with our desires and opinions, we become obstacles to unity.

Feeling frustrated is perhaps normal during this difficult time of dealing with the pandemic. However, frustration can lead us to feel hopeless. When we feel this hopelessness, we stop trusting in God and start to suggest what God could do to make things better. Perhaps it would be better for us to allow the Holy Spirit to help us, especially in prayer, to have greater faith that God has things under control. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen our virtue of hope that despite the difficult times we are in, we are confident that God will lead us to where he wants us. Let us also open our hearts to the love that God the Holy Spirit wants to activate in us, so that this love may be the cause of the unity among us who profess Christ as saviour.

Have a Holy Pentecost!

2020年五旬主日

Holy Spirit as Dove (detail)
济安·贝尼尼 / 公共领域


有人认为圣神的降临是巴贝耳的相反。在巴贝耳塔的故事中,天主赋予人类不同的语言,将人类散布于世界各地。圣神却在五旬节时,让来自各地方的人能理解门徒的唯一喜讯。

当我思虑着世界各地区的基督徒时,我感到惊讶。就像当时五旬节的耶路撒冷人民一样,我们听到了同样的喜讯,承认耶稣是救主,因此成为上主的子民。这种团结的迹象在我们天主教友更加明显。当我们去另一个国家时,例如意大利,虽然语言不同,但是我们能够跟随弥撒的过程。这是因为仪式都是一样的。我们虽然有可能无法以同样的语言,但我们有把握地确定弥撒时正在念天主经或羔羊颂。是同一圣神使我们成为同一受洗的天主子女。当我们犯罪时,我们与天主和基督内的兄弟姐妹疏远。那时我们需要和解。在今天的福音我们听到耶稣向宗徒嘘了一口气,并告诉他们「领受圣神。」(若20:23)耶稣又告诉他们,他们有能力宽恕罪恶。天主教徒相信耶稣在这里立下了和好圣事。可以看出,圣神消除团结的障碍。

团结的许多障碍不是物质的障碍。我们有多少次在一个充满人的房间里感到孤独?由于害羞,可能不会与他人建立联系,而害羞不是个物质的障碍。在这时期,为了大家的安全我们需要保持社交距离。这并不等于引起了团结的障碍,我们可以使用其他的方式。当然,这些方式并不理想,但我们对共同利益和对他人的关心是我们与别人联系紧密的标志。当我们对周围的情形不关紧要,而只关心自己的愿望和见解时,我们就会成为团结的障碍。

当我们面对着疫病的艰难时,感到沮丧可能是正常的。但是,沮丧会使我们感到绝望。当我们感到绝望时,就不再信任天主,而开始向天主提出怎样使事情变得更好。也许更好的选择就是让圣神帮助我们,尤其在祈祷时,使我们有更强的信心,相信天主会控制一切。让我们请圣神加强我们的望德。即使我们处于困难时期,确信天主会带领我们到达祂想要我们去的地方。让我们也展开我们的心灵。天主圣神愿意在我们心灵里激活天主所赐给我们的爱,使这爱成为我们自称基督为救主的教友能团结的理由。

祝大家一个神圣的五旬降临节!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

7th Sunday of Easter 2020 (World Communications Day)

Cellular phone by mimooh



This weekend, I would like to share my reflections on the message that Pope Francis wrote early this year for the occasion of World Communications Day. This year he dedicated his message to the topic of story telling. In 2006, I was privileged to attend the Asian Mission Congress in Chiangmai, Thailand. The theme was “The Story of Jesus in Asia: a Celebration of Faith and Life.” The then Bishop Tagle (who is now Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples) made the keynote address entitled, “Mission in Asia: Telling the Story of Jesus.” Both this address and Pope Francis's message admit that human beings are story tellers. While Cardinal Tagle's address focused on the role of story telling in mission, Pope Francis focuses on the story itself.

Pope Francis's message focuses on five points. Let me share my reflections on each of these points.The first point is about weaving stories. The pope explains that our lives revolve round stories. We are influenced by them; we use them to tell others who we are; we use them to protect our lives; we use them to motivate ourselves in the challenges of life. My father was a great story teller. He was only fourteen when the Japanese attacked and eventually occupied Singapore. A few months before the Japanese Occupation, my grandfather had died and my father became the man of the house. He used to tell me about a family friend who was pursued by the Japanese soldiers and the various ways he eluded capture. He told me how he survived during the occupation when his family lived to Senai in Johore. Those stories told me the kind of experiences, both good and bad, that he had gone through. His stories convinced me not to complain too much. My life was more privileged than my father's. Whenever I can, I will relate my experiences in my homilies, hoping that they would help to motivate others to be more Christian despite the challenges in our present era. Yet, the stories we tell are double edged swords. They may reinforce our identities and they may leave us vulnerable to those who would wish to hurt us.

In his second point, Pope Francis reminds us that evil can enter into stories. Stories laced with half truths can lure us into a false security which can lead to tragic results. Stories that tell us that wealth is the only thing that can lead us to happiness are not telling us the complete truth. I remember one man who worked very hard to provide comforts for his family. Then, within a week, his business failed and he lost almost everything. He had been the owner of a business but now he had to seek employment. He had to sell his detached house to pay his debts. During the few weeks he was going and out of the house for interviews, he had the opportunity to spend time with his young children. His young son remarked that he was happy despite not having a big house because he was having fun with his daddy. This struck the man very hard because, as he explained to me later, he had never realised that his children preferred to spend time with him rather than having nice things. This man’s sharing has strengthened my understanding of Jesus's beatitude: Happy are the poor in spirit. It has also reminded me that there are falsehoods in the marketing statements in many advertisements. There is no certainty that using a certain product or brand will bring about happiness or success.

The third point Pope Francis writes about is the Scriptures. He calls it the Story of Stories. As Catholics, we believe that God is the creator of all, including the stories of the summit of God’s creation: humanity. If our own stories help us forge our own identities, then the Story of Stories forges our identities, not merely as God’s creatures but as God’s children. As Catholics we believe that the Bible is the Word of God. We believe that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. Instead of waiting for us to seek Him out, God seeks us out and tells us about Himself. He tells us how much He loved His chosen people, Israel, in the Old Testament. The Gospels relate the story of Jesus. Jesus Himself uses stories in the form of parables when teaching. The acts of Jesus reveal to us the just but compassionate Son of God. Through the Gospels, we are able to come to know the person of Jesus. When we use the Gospel  to pray, we develop and, in time, strengthen our relationship with Jesus.

The fourth point reminds us that there are generations of people who have had connected with Jesus in faith. The first persons were the apostles which we read in The Acts of the Apostles. The letters that form part of the New Testament also reveal the stories of the first Christians and how they relied on Jesus. From there, in history, we have many saints that have lived their lives connected to Jesus. Their stories can also help us in our relationship with God and His Son. The Pope also mentions more recent titles that were not written by saints but help us understand the human condition.

Finally, the Pope arrives at the point of stories and communication. Our stories are not pre-written. The way our stories move depends on the decisions in our lives. There would be wrong decisions that might cause our lives to become more tragic. However, there are also decisions that we can make that might bring more light to the story we weave. In his words, the Pope reminds us that even though our lives may seem like a boring tragic drama found in many of the fictitious stories that flood the world today, we can re-direct our stories by making decisions with God and Jesus. God has given us many opportunities to redeem ourselves by the redemptive grace won for us by Jesus. A quarter of a century ago, I stood in front of the late Archbishop Gregory Yong, making promises that could be easily broken. In fact, every time I allow a lustful thought to enter my mind, I am transgressing the vow of celibacy that I made. Every time I grumble about a decision my superior makes, I am breaking the promise of obedience to the bishop. Yet, God has continued to be part of my story, enabling me to remain a presbyter despite the struggles I experience in my life. Without admitting God and Jesus in my story, my story would have been the predictable tragedy that we can read in cheap novels. However, with God, I can still hope that there would be a happier ending to the story that is me. Every time we make use of the cellphone or the internet to tell our story, we make use of the modern tools of communication to evangelise.


Friday, May 22, 2020

2020年复活期第七主日(世界界传播日)

Cellular phone by mimooh

这主日,我想分享我对教宗方济各今年年初为世界传播日所写的文告今年世界传播日文告专注于「讲故事」。2006年,我荣幸地参加了在泰国清迈举行的亚洲福传大会。大会主题是「耶稣在亚洲的故事:信仰和生命的颂赞。」当时的达克利主教(现为万民福音传播部部长)作了专题演讲,题为「在亚洲传讲耶稣的故事」。这个专题演讲和方济各教宗的文告都承认人类都会讲故事。达克利枢机讲的重点是讲故事在福传中的作用,而教宗的焦点是故事本身。

方济各教宗的文告主要集中在五个方面。让我跟大家分享我在每个观点所反省的。第一点是编织故事。教宗解释说,我们的生活围绕故事展开。我们受到们的影响;我们利用它们来告诉别人我们是谁;我们用它们来保护我们的生命;我们用它们来激励自己应对生活中的挑战。我父亲很棒讲故事。当日本攻击和占领新加坡时,他只有十四岁。日本占领前几个月,我的祖父去世了。因为我父亲是长子,所以承担了照顾家人的责任。他曾经告诉我关于一个被日军追逐的家友,以及他逃避被抓的各种方式。他也讲到家人在柔佛州的士乃时如何生存。这些故事告诉我他经验过的各种好与坏的事。他的故事说服我不要一致埋怨。我的生活比父亲好的很多。我尽量在讲道时,叙述自己的经验,希望能帮助鼓励教友,在今世充满挑战的请款下,成为更诚信的基督徒。然而,我们所讲的故事是双刃剑。它们可能坚强我们,也会可能使我们容易受到伤害。

教宗的第二点提醒我们邪恶能渗入故事。带有半真相的故事会诱使我们陷入虚假的安全感,引领我们向一个悲惨的结果。有些故事告诉我们财富是唯一能让我们获得幸福的。这些故事都是半真相的故事。我记起一个人,为家庭的安慰而努力地工作。然而,在一周内,他的生意失败了,他几乎失去了一切。他曾是一个老板,但现在他不得不寻找工作。他卖掉他的平房屋子来偿还债务。在工作面试的几个星期时,他有机会与孩子们在一起。他的年纪小小的儿子说,虽然他没有大房子,但是仍然很快乐,因为他正在和爸爸玩。这动了爸爸的心。他爸爸稍后对我解释,他没有想到自己的孩子为了要跟爸爸在一起,宁可不要美好的事物。这个人的分享使我对耶稣八福之一:「神贫的人是有福的」更深的了解。也提醒了我,许多广告中存有虚假的陈述。使用某种产品或品牌,不能确定带来幸福或成功。

方济各教宗文告里的第三点是关于圣经。他称圣经为所有故事的故事。作为天主教徒,我们相信天主是万物的创造者。这也包括人类的故事,因为人也是天主造的。如果我们自己的故事可以帮助我们树立自己的身份,那么所有故事的故事就可以树立我们在天主眼中的身份。我们的身份不仅是天主的造物,而是天主的儿女。作为天主教徒,我们相信圣经是天主的圣言。我们相信天主以圣经启示了自己。天主并没有等待我们寻找祂,而是天主寻找我们,向我们启示了自己。在旧约里,祂告诉我们祂多么爱护祂拣选的民以色列。福音讲述了耶稣的故事。耶稣自己使用寓言作为故事来施教。耶稣的作为向我们揭示了祂是个公义也是有同情心的天主子。通过福音,我们能够认识耶稣。当我们使用福音祈祷时,我们会使到我们与耶稣的关系得到发展和加强。

第四点提醒我们,可有几代人在信仰上与耶稣有联系。首先是宗徒大事录里说读到的宗徒。新约里的书信告诉我们初期教友的故事让我们了解他们怎样依靠耶稣的教导。在历史上,也有好多圣人的故事讲述他们与耶稣的关系,帮助我们怎样地与天主和圣子建立关系。教宗还提到了许多最近不是圣人所写的故事,它们也可以帮助我们了解人类现世的状况。

最后,教综谈到故事和传播的重点。我们的故事不是预先写好的。我们故事的方向是靠我们生活中所做的决定。当然,错的决定可能会使我们的生活变得更加悲惨。不过,我们有能力做出转变生活方向的决定,使我们编织的故事带来更多的喜乐。教宗提醒我们不要容易气馁。即使我们的生活看起来像是一场无聊的虚拟悲剧,我们仍然可以通过天主和耶稣做出端正的决定,使我们能重新转变我们故事的方向。天主赐给了我们好多机会,藉着耶稣所赢得的救赎恩典来赎回自己。二十五年前,我站在杨瑞元总主教面前,许下容易违背的诺言。实际上,每当我允许一个欲情的思想进入心里时,我就违背了独身的誓言。每当我对上司的决定发牢骚时,我违背了服从主教的承诺。然而,天主仍然在我故事里,让我在种种的挑战中,能继续当师铎。如果没有让天主和耶稣成为我故事中的一份,我的故事有可能会变成在廉价小说中可预测的悲剧。但是,与天主在一起,我仍有希望,我的故事会有美好的结局。当我们与别人分享耶稣怎样在我们生活中协助了我们时,我们正视传播我们的故事。今天我们所利用的手机或电脑,就是我们传播福音的用具。




Saturday, May 16, 2020

6th Sunday of Easter 2020

Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper


Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper
Gustave Doré / Public domain



Our reflection this Sunday is from St. John's Gospel chapter 14. It begins with verse 15:
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’
If we are familiar with St. John’s Gospel, we would realise that Jesus only gave one commandment in chapter 13, verse 35:
I give you a new commandment:
love one another;
just as I have loved you,
you also must love one another.
He would repeat this commandment in chapter 15. So it is interesting that Jesus asks the Twelve to keep his commandments when, according to St. John’s Gospel, there is only one commandment that He has given explicitly. Yet, I believe that there were many more instructions that Jesus gave that could be considered commandments. St. John wrote the following at the end of his Gospel in chapter 21 verse 25:
There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.
If the Gospel does not contain all that Jesus taught, then there would be other instructions or commandments. The most important and significant commandment would probably be the new commandment of love.

Returning to this Sunday’s Gospel, we read in verse 16 and 17:
I shall ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate

to be with you for ever,
that Spirit of truth
whom the world can never receive
since it neither sees nor knows him;
but you know him,
because he is with you, he is in you.
The word Advocate is the English word we use to translate the Greek παράκλητον from which we get the word Paraclete.  Paraclete refers to someone who is called to help another. A lawyer is called to help by representing his or her client in court. That is why the the lawyer is also called an advocate. The significant thing here is that Jesus says that the Father will give another Advocate. This means that there is already an Advocate present. From the context of what Jesus is saying, it is not difficult to see that Jesus is that Advocate. Jesus Himself pleads for his disciples. Jesus pleaded with the Father that we might be saved from our sins. His plea is the act of loving obedience when He allowed Himself to be crucified. This second Advocate from the Father will be with the disciples forever. He is the “Spirit of truth,” meaning that there are no deceptions. For St. John, “the world can never receive” this Spirit of truth because it is not aligned with God; it can neither see nor know him. For us who are aligned with God and Jesus, we will know the Spirit of truth because he is with us and in us.

The following verses, 18 to 20, reads:
I will not leave you orphans;
I will come back to you.
In a short time the world will no longer see me;
but you will see me,
because I live and you will live.
On that day
you will understand that I am in my Father
and you in me and I in you.
Jesus had informed his disciples at the beginning of chapter 14 (what we read last Sunday) that he was going away. Here, he assures them that he is not abandoning them. After His Passion, he will depart the world and He would not be with His disciples. Even though the world cannot see Him, the disciples will see Jesus when He resurrects. On Easter evening, we read that Jesus greeted his disciples with peace, or in Hebrew: Shalom. The word does not only mean the absence of conflict or war. It is used to express well-being: wishing that one’s life is whole and complete. For Jesus who has conquered death, that word shalom conveys the meaning of being fully alive. Thus, as his disciples, we will have life to the full. After the greeting, He gives the Holy Spirit to forgive sins. We know that only God can forgive sins. For Jesus to be able to grant that authority, it means that he is truly “in the Father.” St. Thomas, when he sees Jesus alive for the first time after the crucifixion, expresses this more explicitly when he utters the words, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28)

The last verse today is verse 21:
Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them
will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I shall love him and show myself to him.
Again, Jesus refers to His commandments, in the plural. In verse 15, Jesus addresses His disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The disciples who were with Jesus would, with the help of the Paraclete, be able to remember all that Jesus taught (see Jn 14:26). In verse 21, the subject changes from the second person plural to an indefinite pronoun. Anyone who receives and keeps the commandments Jesus gives, that person loves Jesus. Through the Paraclete, that person is connected to Jesus. The Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, will enable that person to receive Jesus's commandments even though he or she had not been with Jesus like the disciples. Earlier, I mentioned that the Gospel of John does not contain all that Jesus did. This same Spirit of truth will also teach anyone all that Jesus had taught to anyone. The person would not have to rely solely on the recorded Gospel which does not contain all that Jesus had said and taught. As Catholics, we believe that the Holy Spirit preserves all that Jesus taught in the Church. The Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to fall into error with regard to Jesus’s teaching.

Why do we need another Advocate? As believers, we are tasked to continue the work that Jesus has left us. At our baptism, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit was given to us. As such, we are connected to Jesus, and our task is bringing the Good News to everyone. We fulfil our task first by keeping the most significant commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. (Jn 13:34) How do we discern the way Jesus loved us? From the Gospels, we already see the love of Jesus when he died on the cross. Is that the only occasion that Jesus loved us? Here is where the Advocate is needed. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to discern the love of Jesus in the events of our lives.

What is our response to Jesus’s love? We reciprocate. We do that by receiving and keeping His commandments. Have we been really keeping His commandments? Perhaps, in our frustration with not being able to come to the sacraments, we think, "What’s the use of obeying commandments when we are not receiving the sacraments?” This is one of the moments when we forget that it is God who loved us first. Jesus first loved us by emptying Himself. (see Phil 2:6-11) If we accept that love and wish to reciprocate, Jesus Himself gives us the way to do so: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Let us continue to pray in this difficult time that we remember that obeying Jesus is merely the means of reciprocating the love Jesus has already given and is still giving us.


2020年复活期第六主日

Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper

耶稣和门徒们在最后的晚餐
古斯塔夫·多雷(Gustave Doré)/公共领域

我们这主日的福音是从圣若望福音第14章、第15节开始:
如果你们爱我,就要遵守我的命令;
根据圣若望福音原始希腊文,这一节里的「命令」是个复数的名词。那对圣若望福音熟悉的人,就会知道耶稣只给门徒们一条命令。这是在第13章第35节:
我给你们一条新命令:
你们该彼此相爱;
如同我爱了你们,你们也该照样彼此相爱。
祂会在第15章中重复这条命令。耶稣要求十二宗徒遵守祂的所有命令,然而在圣若望福音里,耶稣只给单独一条。当我们读圣若望福音第21章25节时会更清楚:
耶稣所行的还有许多别的事;
假使要一一写出来,我想所要写的书,
连这世界也容不下。
如果耶稣全部的教导不能容纳在福音内,那么,除了那单独的命令外,有其他指示或命令的可能性。最重大的就是爱的新命令。

回到这主日的福音,我们继续读第16和17节:
我也要求父,
他必会赐给你们另一位护慰者,
使他永远与你们同在:
他是世界所不能领受的真理之神,
因为世界看不见他,也不认识他;
你们却认识他,因为他与你们同在,并在你们内。
「护慰者」是用来翻译希腊文的 παράκλητον。这希腊文字指的是一个被要求帮助他人的人。重要的是,耶稣说天父会给另一位护慰者。这表示已经有一位护慰者在场。依照耶稣所说的,不难发现耶稣就是那位护慰者。耶稣以恳求来帮助所有信祂的人。耶稣亲自为他的门徒恳求。耶稣向天父恳求,让我们从罪恶中被得救。他的恳求就是祂充满爱心地服从天父,使到祂自愿被钉死在十字架上。天父的另一位护慰者将永远与门徒同在。祂是「真理之神」,祂不欺骗。圣若望认为,世界「不能领受」这真理之神,因为它不跟从天主,既看不见也不认识祂。我们跟随天主和耶稣的,将认识真理之神,因为祂与我们同在,并在我们内。

接下来,我们从第18致20节读到:
我必不留下你们为孤儿;我要回到你们这里来。
不久以后,世界就再看不见我,
你们却要看见我,因为我生活,你们也要生活。
到那一天,你们便知道我在我父内,
你们在我内,我也在你们 内。
上个主日,我们的到第14章的开始:耶稣告诉门徒他要离开了。这里第18节,祂向他们保证,虽然离开了,祂仍然不会放弃他们。受苦之后,他将离开世界,不会与门徒在一起。不过,耶稣复活后,即使世界看不见耶稣,门徒会看见祂。在复活那一天的傍晚,耶稣以平安祝福门徒。希伯来语的这词语,不是「没有冲突」或「没有战争」的意识。它用来表达幸福,希望对方有着充实完整的生命。战胜了死亡的耶稣,祂的祝福传达了完美的生命。因此,作为他的门徒,我们将获得更丰富的生命。接着,他赐给门徒们圣神,使他们能赦免罪过。我们知道,只有天主才能赦免罪恶。耶稣能够授予这权力,表达了他确实是「在祂父内」。圣多默第一次看到复活的耶稣时,明确地发出「我主!我天主!」(若20:28)

最后我们来到第21节:
接受我的命令而遵守的,便是爱我的人;
谁爱我,我父也必爱他,我也要爱他,
并将我自己显示给他。
耶稣重复在第15节的话。在第15节,耶稣对门徒说:「如果你们爱我,就要遵守我的命令。」这话是耶稣向当场的门徒说。那些与耶稣同在的门徒,将受护慰者的帮助,能够记住耶稣所教导的一切(见若14:26)。在这里的第21节,主语从「你」变成「谁」。任何接受并遵守耶稣命令的人,便是爱耶稣。在护慰者的帮助下,那个接受并遵守耶稣命令的人与耶稣有联系。那真理之神的护慰者将使该人能够接受耶稣的命令,即使他没有像门徒那样地与耶稣同在。之前,我提到圣若望福音没有记录耶稣所做的一切。这真理之神的护慰者也将把耶稣所教导传授给任何接受耶稣的人。该人将不必完全依靠所记录的福音,因为福音并没有记下耶稣所说的和所教导的​​一切。作为天主教徒,我们认为圣神在圣教会内保存了耶稣所教导的一切。圣神不会允许圣教会在耶稣的教导方面犯错误。

为什么我们需要另一个护慰者?作为信徒,我们的任务是继续耶稣所离下的工作。我们受洗时,领受了护慰者圣神。因此,我们与耶稣建立了联系,而我们的任务是向世人传播福音。要完成我们的任务,首先要遵守最重要的命令:「你们该彼此相爱;如同我爱了你们,你们也该照样彼此相爱。」(若13:34)我们如何辨别耶稣爱我们的方式?从福音,我们已经体验到耶稣的爱,祂为我们的罪过死在十字架上。那是耶稣爱我们的唯一时候吗?这就是为什么我们需要护慰者。没有圣神的帮助,我们无法在生活中觉悟到耶稣的爱。

我们对耶稣的爱有何反应?我们报答。我们通过接受并遵守他的命令来做到这一点。我们真诚地遵守了耶稣的命令吗? 也许,由于对无法领圣事感到沮丧,我们心里想:「既然我们不领圣事,遵守又有什么用?」如果这样想,我们忘了是天主先爱我们。耶稣也是通过空虚自己先爱了我们(见斐2:6-11)。如果我们接受耶稣的爱并希望报答,耶稣赐给了我们该做的方式:「如果你们爱我,就要遵守我的命令。」让我们继续在这个困难的时候祈祷,祈求天主让我们记住,因为耶稣已经给予并仍在给我们祂的爱,服从耶稣只是我们该付出的回报。

Saturday, May 09, 2020

5th Sunday of Easter 2020

Old roman road, now bridle path, towards Bainbridge, Yorkshire

SarahReesJones / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)



When we consider the Gospel passage of this Sunday, we see at the centre, the well-known saying of Jesus, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Notice that a question leads to this saying and a statement follows this saying. The question that leads to this saying is, “Lord we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus was talking about going away from his disciples to prepare them a place in the Father’s house. I believe it can be taken to mean that Jesus will depart to his Passion so that his followers would be able to enter heaven. St. Thomas was the disciple who asked the question. Many scripture scholars are in the opinion that St. Thomas was someone who preferred to deal with the tangible than with the intangible. That was why he wanted proof of Jesus’s resurrection. Similarly, he asked for the exact place Jesus was going. Yet, we see that he would move away from that way of thinking and embrace the fact that Jesus the man was also God when he uttered, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

Like St. Thomas, many people in our era deal more with the tangible than the intangible. Empirical science is more convincing because it deals with the tangible. Religion does not always produce tangible answers. If one cannot produce physical proof of God’s existence, then God does not exist. Religious faith is thus a mere illusion because there is no physical proof. While many of us would profess that we have faith and do not doubt in the existence of God, we might still have doubts in our hearts. We might think, “If God loves me, why am I suffering?” Perhaps we might think, “If God loves me, why am I not at peace?” When we think this way, are we not saying that we need proof of His love?

Jesus does not chide St.Thomas; He gives St. Thomas an answer:
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.

No one can come to the Father except through me.
Would St. Thomas have understood his answer? This saying of Jesus was not a direct answer to St. Thomas’ question. Jesus tells St. Thomas that to know where Jesus was going, he was to focus on Jesus Himself. Jesus was going to the Father and to know where that was, St. Thomas need only to focus on Jesus. If we want to go to the Father, we would need to focus on Jesus as well. In short, the person of Jesus would lead us to the Father; the words of Jesus would lead us to the Truth and the acts of Jesus in His Passion and Death would lead to true and everlasting life. This is reinforced by Jesus’s next words:
If you know me, you know my Father too.

From this moment you know him and have seen him.
When we focus on Jesus, we will come to encounter the Father and come to know Him. God is Spirit, not material. Thus, for us, who are physical and tangible, we are not able to perceive God with our physical senses. Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, has taken on a physical form so that we can perceive God with our senses. Thus. to know God the Father, we would need to know Jesus. The word “know” here would imply a relationship. However, St. Philip misses this point and interjects with the statement:
Lord, let us see the Father and then we shall be satisfied.
Imagine how Jesus must have felt. This was the last meal He was having with His disciples before his Passion, and they were not clinging to His words! They had been with Him for three years and they were still not able to discern the truth of His words.

Among us, there are those who were baptised just a year ago, there are those who have been Catholic all our lives. No matter how long we have been followers of Jesus, it is important that we cling to Jesus’s words. It is true that we should be stronger in our faith the longer we are Catholics but this is, sadly, not always true. The influence of the world sometimes lead us astray and we would need to find our way back to Jesus. When I say “clinging on to Jesus’s words,” I mean that we take Jesus’s teachings seriously. It is not about memorising the words by rote. Rather, I mean that we do what we can to understand the meaning and significance of His words. Do we pray when we read scripture? Do enquire when we are unsure of the meaning or the implications of His teachings? Are we ready to live His teachings authentically?

Jesus expresses his distress when he says to Philip:
Have I been with you all this time, Philip … 

and you still do not know me?

To have seen me is to have seen the Father,

so how can you say, 'Let us see the Father?'

Do you not believe

that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
These words remind us that Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the way to know the Father. Jesus, the Truth, is the visible expression of what the Father wants to communicate with us. Jesus is the first, the archetype, of the Life the Father wants to give us in the Resurrection. Jesus reassures his disciples and all of us that what he says are not empty words.
I tell you most solemnly,

whoever believes in me

will perform the same works as I do myself,

he will perform even greater works,

because I am going to the Father.
The Acts of the Apostles bear testament to the fact that after the Ascension of Jesus, the apostles and those who had come to believe in Jesus achieved more than Jesus did with respect to the spreading of the Good News. Today, our Christian life has the potential of bringing salvation to others without the need of performing miracles. The grace of God enables us to show the love of God through our compassion and works of mercy. As long as we cling on to the fact that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and live it, our lives can bear witness to the message of the Good News. When we bring the Good News to others, we are evangelising as Christians.


(Chinese Translation below)

当我们考虑这主日的福音时,我们发现在中间就是耶稣的这句名言:「我是道路、真理、生命。」我们会注意到,这句前有发一个问题,这句后有发表一条声明。所发的问题是:「主!我们不知道你往那里去,怎么会知道那条路呢?」耶稣正在谈论要离开门徒,为他们准备在父的家中的住处。我也相信这表示耶稣将要以祂的受难,使门徒能够进入天堂。圣多默是发问的那一个门徒。许多圣经学家认为圣多默倾向面对有形而不是无形的问题。这就是为什么他要求耶稣复活证据的原因。同样的,他询问耶稣要去的确切地方。但是,以后他会改变这种想法,接受耶稣是真人真天主,说道:「我主!我天主!」(若20:28)

像圣多默一样,我们这个时代的许多人倾向面对有形的事情。因为科学是面对着有形的东西和有形的证据,所以它更使人信服。宗教所谈的是无形的,因此不能给满足的答案。世人有着一个想法:如果无法以科学证明天主的存在,那么天主不是真的。因此,宗教信仰只是一种幻想,因为没有任何物理证据。虽然我们会承认我们有信心,并且相信天主的存在,然而我们内心还可能有疑虑。我们可能会想:「如果天主爱我,我为什么还在受苦?」也许我们可能会想,「如果天主爱我,为什么我心还不安?」当我们有这种思想时,岂不是在说我们需要天主爱我们的证据吗?

耶稣不责怪圣多默。他这样地回答圣多默:
我是道路、真理、生命,
除非经过我,谁也不能到父那里去。
圣多默会明白耶稣的回答吗?耶稣没有直接回答圣多默。耶稣告诉圣多默,如果要知道耶稣去哪里,他必需瞩目于耶稣。耶稣要去天父那里,要知道那是什么地方,圣多默只需要把关注集中于耶稣。如果我们想去天父,我们也需要注视于耶稣。简而言之,耶稣会带领我们到天父那里去。耶稣的话将引导我们走向真理,耶稣在受难和死亡将领我们向真实永恒的生命。耶稣继续强调:
你们若认识我,也就必然认识我父;
现在你们已认识他,并且已经看见他。
当我们瞩目于耶稣,我们将遇到天父并认识他。天主是神,不是物质的。 因此,对于我们这些身体和有形的人来说,我们无法利用我们的身体感觉来感知天主。耶稣,成了血肉的天主子,取了肉身的形式,使我们能认识天主。要认识天父,我们就需要认识耶稣。说到「认识」,指的是有一种关系。然而,圣斐理伯误解耶稣的意识,而说:
主!把父显示给我们,我们就心满意足了。
想象一下耶稣的感受。那是他在受难之前与门徒要吃的最后一餐,而他们不能坚注祂的话!他们和耶稣在一起已经有三年的时间,他们仍然无法辨别他所说的话。

在我们当中,有些人一年前受洗,有些是一生作教友。无论我们跟随耶稣多久,我们都必须坚注耶稣的话。的确,我们作教友越久,我们的信仰就应该越坚强。不过,可悲的是,并非时时如此。世界的影响有时会使我们误入歧途,而我们需要找到回到耶稣的道路。当我说「坚注耶稣的话」时,是指我们认真对待耶稣的教导。这并不是要死记硬背。相反,我的意思是我们应该尽力地理解耶稣话语的含义和意义。我们读经时有没有先祈祷呢?当我们不能确定耶稣所教导的意义或含义时,会询问吗?我们愿意在生活里真实地活出耶稣的教导吗?

耶稣很失望因为祂这样地对圣斐理伯说:
斐理伯!这么长久的时候,我和你们在一起,而你还不认识我吗?
谁看见了我,就是看见了父;
你怎么说:把父显示给我们呢?
你不信我在父内,父在我内吗?
这些话提醒我们,耶稣确实是道路、真理和生命。我们沿着耶稣这条路,我们就能认识天父。耶稣是真理,显现了天父与我们人类所要沟通的。父愿意在复活中赐予我们的永恒生命,耶稣就是这种生命的原型。耶稣向门徒和我们保证祂所说的不是空话。
我实实在在告诉你们:
凡信我的,我所做的事业,
他也要做,并且还要作比这些更大的事业,
因为我往父那里去。
宗徒大事录证明了在耶稣升天之后,宗徒和那些相信耶稣的人在传播福音方面比耶稣取得了更多的成就。今天,我们的基督徒生活,没有奇迹,也能帮助世人得到救恩。天主的恩惠使我们能够通过我们的同情和怜悯之心表现出天主的爱。只要我们在生活里坚持耶稣是道路,真理和生命,我们就可以为福音作见证。当我们把福音传达给别人时,我们就是福传的基督徒。