“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Have you ever been asked, “what is your biggest regret in life?”, or, “if you’re given a chance to make another choice in one thing in your life, what would it be?”
Some would say that their biggest regret was not showing and expressing love towards their loved ones who had already left them when they were still alive. Some others would say that they wouldn’t have done or said something that deeply hurt their parents, children, brothers, sisters, friends or colleagues.
The Ecumenical Unity Service of 2020 was held on Jan-21 in Kowloon Union Church. This year the theme was “They Showed Us Unusual Kindness” based on the story of St. Paul’s perilous sea journey as told in Acts 27-28. The materials were prepared by an ecumenical working group of churches in Malta and Gozo.
The cab was entering the roundabout, I pointed at a nearby spot and signalled the driver to stop there. I clumsily got off the taxi with my camera and bag and he thanked me for the little tip. “Ma’a salama,” I bade farewell to him with my broken Arabic as he began to drive away.
Those were the last words in our short time together.
Those were also probably the last words between us in this life. What’s the chance of us meeting again? A traveller from thousands of miles away, and a taxi driver among the thousands of men of the same trade in Amman.
I started walking to the church to meet Pastor Hanna Massad. It was 2011.
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.
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?
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.