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