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A Christmas message from Archbishop Paul Kwong

Posted on: December 19, 2017 10:42 AM
Photo Credit: HKSKH Echo

A Christmas message from Archbishop Paul Kwong of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (The Hong Kong Anglican Church).

  • 該消息也可以用中文讀取
  • this message can also be read in Chinese

Dear Beloved Fellow Citizens of Hong Kong, I wish you all well!

The punch line of an internet advertisement asks: “Are you really ready for the Christmas which is already upon us?” It is very obvious that the advertisement wants to promote consumerism and hedonism as ways to celebrate Christmas. However, if we look at the advertisement from another perspective, the punch line can serve as a reminder to celebrate a meaningful Christmas in a different way. If we wish to celebrate a meaningful Christmas, then we must first be clear about its spirit and importance.

Giving and sharing are at the core of the Christmas spirit. Giving and sharing involve two parties, the giver and the receiver. God the Father is the original and greatest Christmas giver. Because of His love He gave us His son so that we can have new life. This is recorded in Gospel according to St John: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (3:16). The nativity of Jesus is the most precious gift from God to humankind, a reflection of God’s selfless giving to us all.

This is the most powerful gift because it has changed the world and transformed human history. Jesus not only mediated the new relationship between God and mankind; he has also brought all peoples closer together by dismantling the barriers that separated them. Because of Jesus, all people become children of God and God becomes the father of all people. It is in this new relationship that all peoples can live peacefully together. Throughout his life, Jesus lived among the multitudes. He cared and loved people from all social strata, particularly sinners and the poor. He shouldered their burdens and saved them from sin. A pastor once described how Jesus lived for others, “He gave warmth to the poor, new life to sinners and freedom to slaves. He transformed individuals and society.” Christmas is to celebrate the nativity of this love giver, Jesus. The most meaningful way to celebrate Christmas is to imitate Jesus by caring about others, especially those who live in hardship or in physical or spiritual difficulty.

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region recently released a report saying that 1,352,500 people lived in poverty, the highest figure since 2009. Furthermore, there were 340,000 elderly persons living in poverty. As we celebrate Christmas in high spirits, the poor in our midst might sigh and ask, “What does Christmas have to do with me?” Poverty and an aging population are two sides of the same problem, and they present a difficulty that is hard to overcome. It will require the common effort and determination of all Hong Kong people if we are to resolve this problem. The government should develop strategic and creative policies to address the problem, but each citizen should also live out the Christmas spirit of giving by doing their best to take care of those who in need. Even a simple word of love and care may bring a miracle to others.

Christmas reminds us that if we refuse the opportunity to give and share, we may also lose the opportunity to receive. There are many times when we give unwillingly, but when there is love in our heart, it is not possible for us not to give and share. We may keep gifts from Santa Claus to ourselves, but God’s Christmas gift to us is love, and this love has to be shared with others, as we follow Jesus to become selfless givers.

Finally, may I wish you all a meaningful Christmas by living out the spirit of Christmas which can light up the love in the hearts of all Hong Kong people, filling them with joy and peace, warmth and contentment.

各位親愛的香港市民:您們好!

「聖誕節就嚟啦!你真係ready?」這兩句網上廣告口號,明顯就是鼓勵大家在慶祝聖誕節的時候盡量狂歡和消費。但若果從另一個角度來看,這兩句話其實可以提醒我們,不妨用另類的方式去迎接聖誕節。不過,如果要度過一個有意義的節日,首先就要清楚明白這個節日的精神和重要性。

聖誕節的核心精神,是在於「施予」和「分享」。施予和分享涉及雙方面的,就是「施予者」和「受惠者」。天父上帝是聖誕節的第一個和最偉大的施予者。因着愛,他甘願將獨生兒子耶穌賜予世人,為人類帶來新的生命,約翰福音三章:16節的金句就清楚告訴我們:「上帝愛世人,甚至將他獨一的兒子賜給他們,叫一切信他的人不致滅亡,反得永生。」所以,耶穌降生就是上帝無私送給人類最寶貴的禮物。

但是,這份禮物相當有爆炸性,因為他改變了世界的動向,轉化了人類的歷史。耶穌不單止建立了上帝與人類的新關係,亦拉近人與人之間的關係,拆除人與人之間的藩籬。他促使世界各民各族和平共處,成為上帝的兒女,令上帝成為眾人之父。他一生置身於人群之間,關顧愛護社會不同階層的人,特別是罪人和貧困的人。他不單承擔他們的苦難,更把他們從罪中拯救出來。有一位牧者曾經這樣描繪耶穌為人而活的生命:「他要使清貧者得溫暖、犯罪者得新生、為奴者得自由;他要改造個人,也改造社會。」聖誕節就是慶祝耶穌這一位「愛的施予者」誕降的節慶,我們要慶祝一個有意義的聖誕,就是要學效耶穌一樣關懷其他人,特別是那些生活困苦和身心靈不健康的人。

特區政府最近公布最新的貧窮數字,全港共有135.2萬貧窮人口,這個數字是2009年以來的新高點。另外,長者貧窮問題亦相當嚴峻,有接近34萬人。因此,當大家興高彩烈的去問其他人是否準備好迎接聖誕節的時候,那些生活困難的人,就可能會感慨地問:「聖誕節與我何干?」貧窮和人口老化是兩個連連緊扣的難題,要戰勝這一場仗,是需要全港市民的毅力和努力;政府一方面要訂定創新和有前瞻性的政策去回應,而每一位市民,也需要發揮聖誕的施予精神,盡力關懷照顧有困難的人,守望相助、同舟共濟。因為在很多時候,除了物質的供應之外,一句簡單的噓寒問暖,也可能會帶來奇蹟。

聖誕節提醒每一個人,如果我們拒絕施予和分享,亦會令自己失去受惠的機會。我們很多時在施予的時候未必是甘心樂意,但是,當我們心裏存在着一份愛的時候,就一定會願意去施予和分享。聖誕老人送禮物給我們每個人享用,但上帝送給我們的聖誕節禮物是「愛」,這份「愛」是需要與人分享,學像耶穌一樣做無私的施予者。

最後,祝願各位市民可以發揮分享和施予的聖誕節精神,能夠燃亮香港人的愛心,使全港的市民得以充滿喜樂和平安,溫暖和飽足。


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