Christmas Pastoral Letter 2008

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

If it is to conform to the policy to rescue the market in spending more then I should have encouraged the faithful to be liberal in emptying their purse, to buy expensive Christmas gifts, to enjoy a sumptuous Christmas dinner with the family. But what I am going to say for this Christmas is very different from that policy. I feel that what Christmas reveals to us is poverty and frugality.

I do not oppose your buying expensive gifts, having a sumptuous dinner this year, but on this anniversary day, when we remember Christ born in a manger, let us reflect: What is the root problem of the present financial tsunami? Is it not because of over-consumption, of greed for easy money, of irresponsible financial management, of government official refusing to be answerable to the people and renouncing to control the financial market?

Over-consumption: Many people spend money before they earn it and their expenses are over their income.

Greed for easy money: It is difficult to tell the difference between investment and gambling. Ordinary citizens put their savings to buy shares. Of course high return will involve high risk.

The financial management is no longer to support the real economy. The unscrupulous manipulators fabricate “poisonous product”. The government complies with the businessmen. The market is approaching a extremely laissez-faire capitalism. The financial bubble will burst sooner of later. Suddenly we discover that prosperity is an illusion. People lost confidence. Everyone tries to save himself and the financial system collapsed.

In this situation the very rich can hold their devalued titles and wait for another chance to make money. But the real economy is damaged. The medium and small enterprises are out of business. Ordinary people lost their jobs. They cannot pay for the home mortgage and even not able to feed their families.

The message of Christmas is poverty and frugality:

Christ encourages us to forget ourselves, to be concerned with the poor brothers and sisters around us, to let everyone have a warm and serene Christmas. But he also gives us a secret to escape poverty radically and permanently: It is the spirit of poverty, the virtue of frugality.

There was no place in the inn for Joseph and his wife who was near the time to give birth. Little Jesus was born in a manger but he still smiled to his mother. In his mother’s embrace he felt he has not left heaven. The tenderness and fidelity of Joseph gave little Jesus a sense of security stronger than the protection of thousands of royal guards. Warmth and affection are the greatest wealth.

St. Paul in the letter to his beloved disciple Titus said, “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.” (Tit 2:11-12)

Man is more precious than wealth, The Saviour was born for everyone, for me, for you and for the least of our brethren.

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Cardinal Joseph Zen


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