Christmas pastoral letter 2019

On earth peace to those on whom his favour rests (Luke 2:14)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Every Christmas, I recall the teaching of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, an abbot of the Cistercian Order in the 12th century, that the coming of the Lord is threefold. The third coming occurs between the first and the second.

The first coming of Christ revealed that he was made flesh and dwelt among us in the world. He was crucified to redeem all of us from our sins. His resurrection, however, opened for us the way to eternal salvation.

At the second coming of Christ, which will take place on Judgment Day at the end of the world, those who have done good will be rewarded with everlasting life, while those who have done evil and remain unrepentant will be condemned to eternal suffering.

The third coming of Christ is invisible. It refers to our Lord living in the world, graciously offering his Love to all people and inviting them to accept it, so that they may share his Life. We Christians for our part should bear witness to his Love by word and deed, so that we may contribute to the full realisation of the Kingdom of God.

Recalling the First Coming of Christ, every Christmas brings us great joy, and we join the angels in praising God, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests” (Luke 2:14).

In order to experience the third coming of Christ more deeply in our daily life, let us remember to read the Bible with devotion and pray to God zealously. Let us enrich ourselves by taking part actively in the Eucharist and receiving Holy Communion. At the same time, let us lead a life of simplicity, reconciling ourselves with creation. With humility let us repent of our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, imploring our Heavenly Father “to forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12).

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May our families and our young people , along with the Church, care for the poor and the needy more attentively.

Protests against the Extradition Bill, proposed by the SAR government last June as an amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, have led to a socio-political turmoil that has rocked Hong Kong over the past six months. The conflicting views of the government and the protesters, and those of other people, have torn our society apart, and many people have suffered from distressing traumas, psychologically or emotionally. With Christmas approaching, we earnestly make an appeal to all people to stop violence. We should give ourselves a cooling-off period for in-depth reflections on the impacts of our social turmoil and on the means to resolve the current impasse in a humane manner, with a view to restoring peace and healing people’s body, mind and spirit.

Once again, we urge the SAR government to listen to the voice of the people and conduct an independent inquiry into several violent confrontations between the protesters and the police. Only when the truth is made known can the basis of mutual trust between the government and the people be re-established. It is then that we can pave the way for a dialogue of reconciliation.

We earnestly hope that Hong Kong, our beloved city, will always uphold the core values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law, and that the gap between the rich and the poor will be narrowed as soon as possible, conflicts will be resolved, and justice and peace will prevail.

May the Love and Peace of the Lord be with you at Christmas and throughout the coming year!

+ John Cardinal Tong
Apostolic Administrator of Hong Kong
12 December 2019

  • By: davc