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”
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).
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.
Jointly organised by the Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical Commission and the Hong Kong Christian Council, the annual Ecumenical Unity Service was held at the Kowloon Union Church on Jan-18, marking the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the liturgy was prepared by the churches in Germany, focusing on the theme Reconciliation.
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.