Lenten Pastoral Letter 2004

To evangelize by serving
To show compassion by giving


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

To carry out one of the recommendations of the Diocesan Synod we have launched the “Year of Evangelization” in 2003. During the inauguration celebration I said: Evangelization springs from the zeal to proclaim to all, “I know Jesus and I am so happy!”


So, let us ask two questions. First of all, how does a happy person express his joy? And secondly, if I am happy because I know Jesus how am I to help others to know Jesus?


Firstly, when we are happy we are especially generous. When the heart is full of joy we care not so much with gain or loss. A happy person diffuses his joy all around him. When others are happy it is a celebration for him. In chapter 15 of St. Luke’s gospel the person who lost the sheep and the person who lost the coin when they found it again, did he/she not invite all the neighbours to rejoice with him/her? Joy increases in sharing!


However, there are many who live under the heavy burden of life are not able to share the joy of others unless others first share their sufferings. So it is that those who live in joy should sacrifice themselves and serve. Suffering decreases in sharing! In sharing the sufferings of others we indirectly diffuse joy.


Secondly, it happens that adverse situations surpass our good will. Facing injustice and natural or man-made disasters we feel helpless. But we must not despair. We must not give up. We put our trust in God (Boundless Hope). Even to the point of “doing the impossible”.


Besides directly helping our brothers and sisters personally, we should strive to reform the social system, to fight to obtain justice for the weak and the poor. Loving service and selfless concern will bring immense consolation to our brothers and sisters even if we do not obtain immediate result. It is easier to carry the cross in loving company.


To stand beside Jesus’ “least of brethren” is the best way to help them know Jesus. Jesus can no more be seen in his flesh after the ascension but he asks us his followers to be his substitutes: “Love one another as I have loved you”.

To love and to serve is the witness of faith. Social concern and evangelization are the two sides of the same coin. Seeing our concern the brothers and sisters will ask: Who are these people? When they find out that we are the followers of Jesus they will come to the conclusion: Those who believe in Jesus are those who love. I also want to know Jesus!


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Lent is a time for reflection. Let us ask ourselves if we are Christians in fact and not just in name. Do others see the love of Jesus is us? Am I evangelizing by serving and concern?


The Lenten Campaign organized by Caritas Hong Kong is an appropriate occasion for us to be generous. Let us give joyfully, not calculating money, action and love.

Many people say, “We want to see Jesus” (Jn. 12:21). May they see him in us.


Bishop Joseph ZEN, SDB
13 January 2004

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