Never has there been a rope long enough to slow down the sun, Water flows, clouds pass, endless lamentations. When I try to buy the sea from the goddess, All that remains is a cup of spring dew cool as ice. – Li Shangyin, “Visiting the Mountain”
I’m willing to give up everything for an end to the occupation, which causes such a blight on this land that it’s impossible for me to feel holiness where there are deep injustices taking place. — Aaron Rotenberg
In Luke chapter 10, the author tells the story of the Good Samaritan, in which a lawyer tried to test Jesus. First, he asked Him what should he do to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ answer, according to Luke, was “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
But the lawyer did not stop there and pressed on, “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus then told the now renowned parable, in which a Samaritan came to be the lifesaver of a traveller who was robbed and beaten to half dead.
The story is provocative in that, a priest and a Levite passed by the traveller before the Samaritan did. They were people that the Jews held in much higher regard. But, the good act was not carried out by these venerated people, but by a Samaritan to whom the audience consider to be enemy.
Essentially, Jesus turned the question from “who is my neighbour?” into “to whom am I a neighbour?”
Perhaps it’s fitting to apply this parable’s teaching in today’s Hong Kong, a city so divided that some of the “yellow ribbons” and “blue ribbons” are increasingly hostile to each other. If you, just in case, are a “yellow ribbon”, then who may be your neighbour? And in case you are a “blue ribbon”, then who may be your neighbour?
What if you are a police officer? What if you are a protester?
If, one day, you happen to see your neighbour “robbed and beaten to half dead”, will you be moved with pity and show him/her mercy?
And we have the perfect example set by Jesus, who tells us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, that we may be children of our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:44-45). He who when suffering on the cross, prayed to the Father to forgive those who put Him there.
For this is the message that we have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, so that His love can be perfected in us (1 John 4:12).
Two years ago, an animal rights society in Hong Kong was accused of putting down a lost cat erroneously. As a matter of fact, this organisation whose mission is “to promote kindness to animals”, is actually responsible for taking the lives of thousands of them every year. Ironic, isn’t it?
While people can debate if these people are doing their best to prevent cruelty to animals, one cannot deny that, one of the root causes, is because some people treat their pets like possessions or merely commodities, they do not care much about them, or even abuse and abandon them when they have lost interest. No love is lost when there is none to begin with.
On another note, a sister once told me that she became a vegetarian after learning how all those delicious dishes are made and prepared from animals being slaughtered. Indeed, the modern city culture has removed from most of us the gruesome scenes and details of animals being killed for food, replacing them with the Disney-style perception of animals.
Being a faithful witness to the Lord in our lives is an often discussed topic among the Christian faithful. Individual believers who follow the teachings of the Lord and glorifies Him through their daily deeds should be commended and encouraged indeed. At the same time, congregations, denominations and faith-based organizations may also engage in various social dialogue, and drive or oppose the implementation of government policies in order to bring about justice and peace. While being different in aspects, both types of actions can be considered “expressions of faith”, witnesses to the world by believing individuals or communities.
Meanwhile, the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948 is considered by many believers to be a divine intervention, a validation of Biblical prophecies, or even a sign of the End Times. However, those who understand the historical background are few and far between, even though the event was arguably driven by “expressions of faith”.
The mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust under the Nazi German rule had its roots in the long history of European anti-Semitism. For example, in 1475, a “ritual murder” happened in Trento, Italy: A boy named Simon was found dead, and the few Jewish families living there were framed for it and tortured by the religious-political leaders. They were forced to confess that they killed Simon to fulfill their ritual requirements, and as a result were either executed or incarcerated. Though the Roman Curia was suspicious of the authenticity of this “blood libel” case as we call it now, for various reasons, Little Simon was canonized as a Saint nonetheless. Only in 1965, after almost 500 years, was Simon removed from the Roman Martyology by Pope John Paul VI. And Little Simon was not the only blood libel case during all those years. Throughout the history of Europe, the Jewish people were negatively portrayed and persecuted since the time of Jesus’ death, in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Martin Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies, the Spanish Inquisition, the Black Death, the Crusades, to name a few. Being a foreign minority in Europe, the Jews became a convenient scapegoat of the power and people whenever problems arose.
When God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful in Genesis, the land was still virgin and undefiled. Adherents of the three major monotheistic faiths have since taken this commandment literally, populating the earth and multiplying descendants, as with other peoples on this blue planet.
Today, the earth is on the verge of destruction. To be more precise, it’s fast becoming a place that may no longer be habitable to many of us and other creatures because of environmental pollution and global warming. The planet will stay, but those who claim to know it and give meanings may be no longer.
Talks of wars, conflicts, terrorism occupy the minds of many, and graphic Biblical images of Daniel and Revelation capture the minds of the Christian faithful. Perhaps, however, we have overlooked the most prominent and imminent danger of our age – Human greed and carelessness leading to the wanton destruction of the environment.
As citizens of the planet earth, let us be mindful of what and how we use and consume, let us till the land and manage it well, doing it ourselves and encourage those around us to do likewise, so that we can be at Peace with the earth.