Peace with Thy Neighbours

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).

Adapted from the transcript of my Reflections on Peace on RTHK Radio 4 in 2016.

Peace with the Creatures

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.

Animals are part of God’s creation, and while God has let us to have dominion over them and given us the rights to consume them for food, He did not tell us to disrespect them or induce unnecessary pains on them. And they can be God’s vessels as well, remember when Balaam refused to listen to God, it was a donkey who saved his life.

So let us remember the meekness of the Son, who does not break the bruised reed, and the loving-kindness of the Father, who feeds and remembers the sparrows, and be at Peace with the creatures.

Adapted from the transcript of my Reflections on Peace on RTHK Radio 4 in 2016.

“Holy Land” in Twenty Eighteen

7 years have passed since the photos in Holy Land were taken. Few positive changes can be found on the ground… if not the other way around.

Indeed, 70 years have passed since one diaspora found their homeland and brought forth another.

Since then, Peace has been a frequent traveller, alien to this place. Away most of the time, occasionally staying, rarely for long.

Her friend, Love, seemed to have deserted the land altogether.

But Faith urges us on, and we, encouraged by Hope, continue to seek the wanderer and the lost.

Kyrie eleison.

“Holy Land” in CCLC Bookstore. Photo taken by Louise Pang

The second donation from the proceeds of this book has been made to Gush Shalom – an Israeli peace group founded by Uri Avnery, who penned the writing A Bird’s Eye View in Holy Land.

This bi-lingual book is now distributed by VW Link in Hong Kong (who also carries the Chinese edition of Palestinian Memories). And, as before, is available digitally on Google Play and iTunes.

2018-Aug-6: The book is now also available on Amazon Kindle.

Expressions of Faith

A Reflection on Israel/Palestine and Hong Kong

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”.

Auschwitz concentration camp (C.Puisney, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Continue reading “Expressions of Faith”

Peace with the Earth

Photo: NASA

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.

Adapted from the transcript of my Reflections on Peace on RTHK Radio 4 in 2016. The above photo shows the then growing rift in Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica.

Trent 1475

Before the Holocaust there was the Merchant of Venice, before the Merchant of Venice there was the Spanish Inquisition, before the Spanish Inquisition there was the Simon of Trent, and before the Simon of Trent there was the Black Death, before the Black Death there were the Crusaders…

The book Trent 1475 documents the proceedings of a blood libel case in Trento, Italy in the year 1475. A Christian boy was found dead and his Jewish neighbours were framed for it. This child, Simon, was once considered a martyr being killed in a ritual murder. His case contributed to anti-Semitism in the European history, which reached its apex in the Holocaust – six million Jews were murdered in that horrific genocide. Eventually, in 1965, Pope Paul VI removed Simon from the Roman Martyrology.

Perhaps it’s only fitting and reassuring that the Chinese edition is published by the Centre for Catholic Studies.

History doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We do not exist in a vacuum. To understand the present we have to consult the past. And history is not just ink printed on dead trees, it is about real living human beings and all that surround them. Nor it just one subject in the school curriculum, for it may lend itself to the betterment of us as individuals and as a species, if we are to pay attention. Paraphrasing George Santayana, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The question is, have we started learning?

Tao Fong Shan

True to its roots as a place for inter-faith dialogue between Buddhists and Christians, Tao Fong Shan remains to be a quiet retreat among the busyness of Hong Kong, welcoming pilgrims of all faiths, to converse, to reflect, and to gain a deeper meaning of life.

Founded by Norwegian missionary Karl Ludvig Reichelt in 1930, it is now home to the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre, the Lutheran Theological Seminary, and the Ascension House.

32 photos: Lightbox, Album