Christmas Pastoral Letter 2005

The gift of peace

It is Christmas, we exchange gifts. The improved situation of the economy may allow us to buy better gifts for our dear ones than last year. But the best gift is surely the one brought by Jesus, it is himself: “a child is born for us, a son given to us, and dominion is laid on his shoulders and this is the name they give him…Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:5)


The angels appeared and sung: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favour.” Jesus comes and brings us peace.


We people in Hong Kong, are in dire need of peace. We have had so many controversies and violent confrontations in our midst.


What then is the secret of peace? Pope Benedict XVI has given us the theme for the World Day of Peace2006: “In Truth, Peace”.


We may object that it is precisely because we insist on our truth that there is disagreement. If we put aside the problem of truth, is it not easier then to live in peace?


But if we renounce truth, then there is only personal opinion. This may seem to be an open-minded attitude, but there is also the dictatorship of relativism. If there is no objective truth, my opinion may reign supreme and I may try to have everything my way.


This is pessimistic. Jesus’ coming has freed us from pessimism. “All that came to be had life in him, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4) “We saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The truth is that God loves us and has given his son to us.


John Paul II, in his encyclical, Redemptor Hominis (The Redeemer of Man), told us that God, while showing us his love in the incarnation of his son, has at the same time shown us the profound dignity of man, who is so important is his eyes that he sent his son to redeem him.


By his incarnation, Jesus has become one of us, in him we are all brothers and sisters. Even unbelievers can agree on universal brotherhood. The problem is that we can be tempted by greed for wealth or for power, then peace is no longer assured. Only if we truly accept this truth of universal brotherhood and live by it, will there be lasting peace.


The new commandment is to love everybody, each person, and to love them as oneself. Not just giving alms, like scraps from the table, but letting everybody sit at the table and share the fruit of the common effort of the whole family of humankind.


Some may have doubts to hear this controversial bishop preaching peace. I think what I am doing is always to preaching gospel truth and the teaching of the Church by defending human rights.


Because of the dignity of each person, the bishop is entitled to participate in the affairs of the society and not leave the decision only in the hands of the rich and the powerful, this is democracy.


With the World Trade Organisation, globalisation is causing marginalisation of the poor, we are standing at their side, fighting for a more equitable system to guarantee their survival.


May this Christmas bring home the truth of love into every heart. I wish you all a new year of freedom, equality and peace. My God bless you all.


Yours in the Lord,
+ Joseph ZEN, SDB
Christmas 2005

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