將臨期第三主日 2018年12月23日


將臨期第三主日

知足知不足,有為有不為

讀經一:(索3:14-18):上主要因以色列民而喜樂歌唱
讀經二:(斐4:4-7):以喜樂之心依靠上主
福 音:(路3:10-18):應改變生活以配合受洗
中國文化:知足、知不足,有為、有不為。人有不為也,然後可以有為。擇善固執。不義而富且貴,於我如浮雲。知其不可而為之。

群眾問若翰說:「我們該做什麼呢?」他回答說:「有兩件衣服的,要分一件給那沒有的;有食物的也該照樣做。」有稅務員也來受洗,問他說:「老師,我們該做什麼呢?他對他們說:「除了規定的以外,你們不要多徵收!」有些軍人也問他說:「我們該做什麼呢?」他對他們說:「不要勒索,不要敲詐:對你們的糧餉應當知足!」
(路3:10-14)

「我們該做什麼?」這是群眾聽了若翰洗者的宣講之後所問的首要問題。

他們願意信、願意悔改,甚至願意接受象徵悔改的洗禮。他們也清楚知道,要接受若翰的洗禮,就要先接受洗禮的條件,即信仰的實踐,和生命的轉變。所以群眾要先知道「該做什麼」,以符合受洗的要求。

原來若翰曾向他們強調:要「結與悔改相稱的果實。」因為悔改不單是一種善良的願望,也是一種行為。而「凡不結好果子的樹,必被砍倒,投入火中。」(路3:9)

我們慣常稱人們為「信徒」,他們有「信仰」,他們「信」教。這類用字很容易引起誤會,以為信仰的重點是一些腦筋和思想的問題,或歸根到底只得一個「信」字。

其實,如果我們稱他們為「活徒」(或如佛教所說的「行者」),那麼,重點就會變成了要「活出」信仰,這樣,我們便可省卻不少信仰與生活脫節的問題了。

教會內有所謂「共融」。這共融原來有三個層次:最基本和最重要的是愛德的共融,其次是信德的共融,再其次是制度上的、紀律上的共融。

基督在最後審判時給我們定下信仰和得救的標準,也是只剩下一個「愛」字。若望一書也認為:「哪裡有愛,哪裡就有天主;哪裡有天主,哪裡就有愛」。(參考若一4:7-21)教會裡有一首很流行的聖歌,歌詞就這樣說:「何處有仁,何處有愛;何處有仁,天主必常在。」其實,它是源於一首很古老的拉丁文聖歌:Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

這也是若翰心目中最原本的信仰:要用生活去活出來的信仰;要以行動、以愛德、以公道的生活、以正直的人生、以分享來表現的信仰。

在這個生活實踐的過程中,若翰提出了兩對、四個原則:知足、知不足;有為、有不為。

知不足,所以要充實自己,要問道、慕道、尋道;猶太人從耶路撒冷派遣了司祭和肋未人,到若翰那裡問他:「你是誰?」或者,當群眾問:「我們該作什麼呢?」這些都可以算是問道的一種。

知足,所以要欣賞、享受我們所擁有的一切,不作非分之想:「對你們的糧餉應當知足!」

有為,所以要和人分享自己的東西:「有兩件衣服的,要分一件給那沒有的;有食物的也該照樣做。」

有不為,所以稅務員不要多徵收,軍人不要勒索、也不要敲詐。

其實,這兩對、四個原則是互為表裡、互相支持的。知足的人才能知不足,知不足的人才能知足;有為的人才能有不為,有不為的人才能有為。所以孟子才說:「人有不為也,然後可以有為。

世上有些大是大非的東西,我們一生都會堅持;不該做的,我們不會為,也不屑為。孔子所謂「不義而富且貴,於我如浮雲」,就屬於這一類。雖然富與貴,是人人都追求的,但孔子認為,如果一定要以不義的方法去獲取,他就寧願放棄;他只會把這樣得來的富貴,當作過眼雲煙。

反過來說,有不為的人,才有勇氣和餘力去作該作的事。所以孔子在一切的困苦和艱難之中,仍有「知其不可而為之」的勇氣和擔當,這就是中庸所說的「擇善固執」;即是說,只要是孔子認定是該作的事,他就會堅持到底,明知做不到的,也會努力去試一試。

讓我們在知足、知不足,有為、有不為之間,去切切實實的準備自己,以迎接基督的來臨。

 

将临期第三主日

知足知不足,有为有不为

读经一:(索3:14-18):上主要因以色列民而喜乐歌唱
读经二:(斐4:4-7):以喜乐之心依靠上主
福 音:(路3:10-18):应改变生活以配合受洗
中国文化:知足、知不足,有为、有不为。人有不为也,然后可以有为。择善固执。不义而富且贵,於我如浮云。知其不可而为之。

群众問若翰说:「我们該做什么呢?」他回答说:「有两件衣服的,要分一件给那没有的;有食物的也該照样做。」有税务员也来受洗,問他说:「老师,我们該做什么呢?他对他们说:「除了规定的以外,你们不要多徵收!」有些军人也問他说:「我们該做什么呢?」他对他们说:「不要勒索,不要敲诈:对你们的粮饷应当知足!」
(路3:10-14)

「我们該做什么?」这是群众听了若翰洗者的宣讲之后所問的首要問题。

他们願意信、願意悔改,甚至願意接受象徵悔改的洗礼。他们也清楚知道,要接受若翰的洗礼,就要先接受洗礼的条件,即信仰的实踐,和生命的转变。所以群众要先知道「該做什么」,以符合受洗的要求。

原来若翰曾向他们强调:要「结与悔改相称的果实。」因为悔改不单是一种善良的願望,也是一种行为。而「凡不结好果子的树,必被砍倒,投入火中。」(路3:9)

我们惯常称人们为「信徒」,他们有「信仰」,他们「信」教。这类用字很容易引起误会,以为信仰的重点是一些脑筋和思想的問题,或归根到底只得一個「信」字。

其实,如果我们称他们为「活徒」(或如佛教所说的「行者」),那么,重点就会变成了要「活出」信仰,这样,我们便可省却不少信仰与生活脱节的問题了。

教会内有所谓「共融」。这共融原来有三個层次:最基本和最重要的是爱德的共融,其次是信德的共融,再其次是制度上的、纪律上的共融。

基督在最后审判時给我们定下信仰和得救的标准,也是只剩下一個「爱」字。若望一书也认为:「哪里有爱,哪里就有天主;哪里有天主,哪里就有爱」。(参考若一4:7-21)教会里有一首很流行的圣歌,歌词就这样说:「何处有仁,何处有爱;何处有仁,天主必常在。」其实,它是源於一首很古老的拉丁文圣歌:Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

这也是若翰心目中最原本的信仰:要用生活去活出来的信仰;要以行动、以爱德、以公道的生活、以正直的人生、以分享来表现的信仰。

在这個生活实踐的過程中,若翰提出了两对、四個原则:知足、知不足;有为、有不为。

知不足,所以要充实自己,要問道、慕道、寻道;犹太人从耶路撒冷派遣了司祭和肋未人,到若翰那里問他:「你是谁?」或者,当群众問:「我们該作什么呢?」这些都可以算是問道的一种。

知足,所以要欣赏、享受我们所拥有的一切,不作非分之想:「对你们的粮饷应当知足!」

有为,所以要和人分享自己的东西:「有两件衣服的,要分一件给那没有的;有食物的也該照样做。」

有不为,所以税务员不要多徵收,军人不要勒索、也不要敲诈。

其实,这两对、四個原则是互为表里、互相支持的。知足的人才能知不足,知不足的人才能知足;有为的人才能有不为,有不为的人才能有为。所以孟子才说:「人有不为也,然后可以有为。

世上有些大是大非的东西,我们一生都会坚持;不該做的,我们不会为,也不屑为。孔子所谓「不义而富且贵,於我如浮云」,就属於这一类。虽然富与贵,是人人都追求的,但孔子认为,如果一定要以不义的方法去获取,他就宁願放弃;他只会把这样得来的富贵,当作過眼云烟。

反過来说,有不为的人,才有勇气和余力去作該作的事。所以孔子在一切的困苦和艰难之中,仍有「知其不可而为之」的勇气和担当,这就是中庸所说的「择善固执」;即是说,只要是孔子认定是該作的事,他就会坚持到底,明知做不到的,也会努力去试一试。

让我们在知足、知不足,有为、有不为之间,去切切实实的准备自己,以迎接基督的来临。

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Be content but be aware of one's limitation of knowledge
Some things can be accomplished, others cannot

First Reading (Zeph 3: 14-18): The Lord sings with joy over the Israelites
Second Reading (Phil 4: 4-7): Rely on the Lord with a joyful heart
Gospel (Lk 10 –18): At Baptism we should change our lives
Chinese classics:
-“Be content and be aware of one's limitations of knowledge. There are things that can be accomplished and things that cannot. Only those who have the ability to refuse, have the ability to accomplish.”(1)
-“Riches and honor begotten from ill-gotten gains are like passing clouds to me” (2)
-“Knowing it cannot be done yet doing it.”(3)
-“Discover what is good and hold fast to it.”(4)

“The crowds asked him, 'What then should we do?' In reply he said to them, 'Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.' Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, 'Teacher, what should we do?' He said to them, 'Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.' Soldiers also asked him, 'And we, what should we do?' He said to them, 'Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusations, and be satisfied with your wages.' ”(Lk 3: 10-14)

What then should we do?” This was the first question the crowds asked after they had heard John the Baptist's words. They were willing to believe, willing to change, even willing to accept baptism as a symbol of a renewed life. They clearly knew that if they accepted John's baptism, they also must accept the conditions it entailed, which were a faith shown by deeds and a transformed life. Therefore the crowds had to first know 'what they must do' to abide by the demands of baptism.

John emphasized with them that they must “bear fruit worthy of repentance.” To change was not just to have a pious desire, it also had to be shown by actions. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Lk 3:9).

We ordinarily say people are 'believers' or that 'they have faith,' or that they 'become members of a certain religion.' These phrases easily lead to misunderstanding if we think that the core of faith is simply a matter of the intellect and mind and that is all there is to 'faith.' Actually, if we would call people who become believers 'living disciples' (or as Buddhists say 'those who act') the emphasis would be on 'living out' one's faith. Then we could avoid many concepts that result in separating faith and life.

In the Church we have what we call 'communion' or 'unity of persons.' This communion or unity really has three levels. The most basic and important level is a communion of love, then there is a communion of faith. Finally, there is unity of structures and rules.

Christ told us that at the Final Judgment the criteria for faith and salvation will be encompassed in one word only, 'love.' In 1 John, the author says, “Where there is love, there is God; where there is God, there is love.” (1 Jn 4: 7-21) There is a popular hymn in the Church in which we sing, ‘Where there is mercy, there is love; where there is love, God is surely present.’ It comes from an ancient Latin hymn ‘Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

That is actually the kind of faith John the Baptist had in his heart: a faith that showed itself in deeds, in a life of love, justice and righteousness, and in sharing with others to show one's faith. In the process of putting this way of life into practice, John raised both contradictions and principles: “Be content yet be aware of one's limitations of knowledge. There are things that can be accomplished but also things that cannot be accomplished.”(1)

'Be aware of one's limitations of knowledge.' One must fill oneself with knowledge, ask questions, study and search. For example the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask John, 'Who are you?' Or another example might be when the crowds asked, 'What are we to do?'

'Be content.' Therefore we must appreciate and enjoy all that we have, and not crave for what we cannot have. 'Be content with the food that you have.'

'There are things that can be accomplished.' One must share one's possessions with others: “If you have two coats, share with those who have none; whoever has food must do likewise.”

“There are also things that cannot be accomplished.” The tax-collectors must not collect more than the amount prescribed and soldiers should not blackmail or extort money from others.

Actually these contradictions and principles explain and support each other. Only those who are content realize their limitations. Only those who lack something know that they have enough. Only those who have accomplished something know that there are things they have not accomplished. Only those who know there are things they have not yet accomplished can accomplish them. That is what Mencius meant by saying, 'Only those who have the ability to refuse, have the ability to accomplish.'(1)

Throughout life, when we are faced with issues of absolute right and wrong, we should hold fast to our principles about what we should not do, what we will not do and what we disdain to do. Confucius’ words exemplify this: “Riches and honour begotten from ill-gotten gain are like passing clouds to me.”(2) Though everyone pursued wealth and honour, if they could only be obtained in ill-gotten ways Confucius preferred to give them up. He would view the ill-gotten riches as passing clouds and smoke.

Likewise, only those who have the courage to refuse, have the courage to do what should be done. That is why even when faced with hardships and difficulties, Confucius bore responsibility with courage, knowing it could not be done yet doing it.” (3) That is what the “Doctrine of the Mean” meant by “Discover what is good and hold fast to it.”(4) When Confucius was positive it was something that must be done, he would persist to the end. Even though he knew it could not be done, he would try hard to do it.

Let us then prepare ourselves with all our hearts to receive Christ when he comes again. Let us be content with what we have, aware of our limitations, accomplish what we can and forego what we cannot.

(1)知足、知不足,有為、有不為。
(2)人有不為也,然後可以有為。
(3)擇善固執。
(4)不義而富且貴,於我如浮雲。知其不可而為之。

 

 

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徐錦堯@fr.luketsui.idv.hk 2019