常年期第二十七主日 2019年10月06日


常年期第廿七主日
 
桃李不贅言,忠僕不邀功
 
讀經一:(哈1:2-3;2:2-4):要忍耐等待上主的作為
讀經二:(弟後1:6-8,13-14):不要以為主作證為恥
福 音:(路17:5-10):門徒應謙下
中國文化:慈母手中線,遊子身上衣;臨行密密縫,意恐遲遲歸。誰言寸草心,報得三春暉?處處無家處處家,一生無愧亦無誇;蒼桑歷盡身猶健,白髮原是好年華。桃李不言,下自成蹊。至人無夢。
 
宗徒對主說:「請加強我們的信德!」……主對宗徒說:「你們中,誰會對耕田或放羊回來的僕人說:『你快過來,坐下吃飯罷!』而不對他說:『給我準備晚飯,束上腰來伺候我,等我吃完了,你才吃』呢?難道僕人做了主人所吩咐的事,主人需要向他道謝嗎?你們也該這樣,做完了吩咐你們的一切,仍然要說:『我們是無用的僕人,只是做了分內的事。』」(路17:5-10)
 
為什麼耶穌要我們在盡好本分、在做了該做的事之後,仍然要說自己是「無用之僕」呢?今天的心理學家和教育家,都鼓勵我們要學會肯定自己、完成自己、成為自己,對自己要有充足的自信心。那上面耶穌的話,不是與現代人的這種想法相矛盾嗎?又如果我們相信「天生我才必有用」,那我們又怎麼會是「無用的僕人」呢?
 
為了幫助我們明白信仰的各個方面,聖經有時用不同的方式、不同的比喻去導引我們,有時更以互相矛盾的說法,好讓我們能比較全面地明白真理的各個層次。
 
但無論聖經說得多麼清楚,我們還是需要信德;需要在信德的光照下,去默觀我們的信仰,明白上主在我們身上的作為,洞察我們與天主之間的關係。
 
換句話說,要深入地了解我們的信仰,我們要心、腦並用。用腦,要思考信仰;用心,要接受信仰,並讓信仰的各個方面,包括各種矛盾的元素,都能慢慢滲透我們的整個生命,並在我們的生命中,得到和諧而有機的統一。
 
今天的福音就讓我們碰到一個這樣的矛盾問題:我們做了該做的事,為什麼還要說自己是個「無用的僕人」呢?為什麼同樣的路加,在第十二章37節裡,卻說主人要賞報那些忠信的僕人呢?
 
路加的這段經文是這樣說的:當主人由婚筵回來時,如果能見到僕人醒寤著,他們便真有福了,因為「主人要親自束上腰,請他們坐席,自己前來伺候他們。」(路12:37)
 
即是說,僕人做了好事,做了該做的事以後,主人不單會讚美和欣賞,而且還會加以獎勵和報答!
 
但怎樣報答呢?這就是關鍵的所在了。
 
僕人想得到的報答,大概是主人給他一點什麼東西,那是一些物質上的報酬;而主人要給的報答,卻是他自己:他要把自己賞給僕人,他要親自來伺候他們!
 
有些人把母親親手織的毛衣當寶貝,並戲稱它做「溫暖牌」,所以下面這首詩才能家傳戶曉、傳誦千古:「慈母手中線,遊子身上衣;臨行密密縫,意恐遲遲歸。誰言寸草心,報得三春暉?
 
但相信今天一定也有不少青年人,他們寧可花大錢去買名牌子的衣服,也不要母親手織的、他們認為是很老土的毛衣!這也許就是上述僕人所要求的賞報,與主人要給的賞報之間的不同之處了。
 
今天福音也許還要說,做好事的本身,已經是一種賞報,用不著有人吹噓,也不必要有人欣賞,更不需要什麼報答。人人都做該做的事,大家心安理得,沒有必要自吹自擂、自我膨脹:「我們不過是做了該做的事。
 
我今年五十七歲,滿頭白髮,感慨韶華老去之際,寫了一首打油詩,頗有上述的心境:「處處無家處處家,一生無愧亦無誇;蒼桑歷盡身猶健,白髮原是好年華。」放下一切是非得失,以平常心去面對人生的一切,我們會快樂得多。
 
史記有「桃李不言,下自成蹊」一語,相信亦能為上述聖經作點註釋。原來漢朝名將李廣,忠肝義膽,清廉厚道,愛護屬下,早已遠近聞名。所以他死時,無論和他認識與否,都由衷地哀悼他。史記的作者司馬遷就用「桃李不言,下自成蹊」,來形容人們對李廣自發的敬愛。就好像桃花李花都為人所喜愛,由於眾人都來欣賞,所以在桃和李的樹下,就自然被人走出路來一樣。
 
我們做了好事,天主本身已經是我們的賞報,我們良心快樂、平安,也已經是最好的賞報,我們還要求什麼別的賞報呢?做了該做的事,達到莊子所說的「至人無夢」的至樂境界了,為什麼還要說多餘的話呢?
常年期第廿七主日
 
桃李不赘言,忠仆不邀功
 
读经一:(哈1:2-3;2:2-4):要忍耐等待上主的作为
读经二:(弟后1:6-8,13-14):不要以为主作证为耻
福 音:(路17:5-10):门徒应谦下
中国文化:慈母手中线,游子身上衣;临行密密缝,意恐迟迟归。谁言寸草心,报得三春晖?处处无家处处家,一生无愧亦无夸;苍桑历尽身犹健,白发原是好年华。桃李不言,下自成蹊。至人无梦。
 
宗徒对主说:「请加强我们的信德!」……主对宗徒说:「你们中,谁会对耕田或放羊回来的仆人说:『你快過来,坐下吃饭罢!』而不对他说:『给我准备晚饭,束上腰来伺候我,等我吃完了,你才吃』呢?难道仆人做了主人所吩咐的事,主人需要向他道谢吗?你们也該这样,做完了吩咐你们的一切,仍然要说:『我们是无用的仆人,只是做了分内的事。』」(路17:5-10)
 
为什么耶稣要我们在尽好本分、在做了該做的事之后,仍然要说自己是「无用之仆」呢?今天的心理学家和教育家,都鼓励我们要学会肯定自己、完成自己、成为自己,对自己要有充足的自信心。那上面耶稣的话,不是与现代人的这种想法相矛盾吗?又如果我们相信「天生我才必有用」,那我们又怎么会是「无用的仆人」呢?
 
为了帮助我们明白信仰的各個方面,圣经有時用不同的方式、不同的比喻去导引我们,有時更以互相矛盾的说法,好让我们能比较全面地明白真理的各個层次。
 
但无论圣经说得多么清楚,我们还是需要信德;需要在信德的光照下,去默观我们的信仰,明白上主在我们身上的作为,洞察我们与天主之间的关系。
 
换句话说,要深入地了解我们的信仰,我们要心、脑并用。用脑,要思考信仰;用心,要接受信仰,并让信仰的各個方面,包括各种矛盾的元素,都能慢慢渗透我们的整個生命,并在我们的生命中,得到和谐而有机的统一。
 
今天的福音就让我们碰到一個这样的矛盾問题:我们做了該做的事,为什么还要说自己是個「无用的仆人」呢?为什么同样的路加,在第十二章37节里,却说主人要赏报那些忠信的仆人呢?
 
路加的这段经文是这样说的:当主人由婚筵回来時,如果能见到仆人醒寤著,他们便真有福了,因为「主人要亲自束上腰,请他们坐席,自己前来伺候他们。」(路12:37)
 
即是说,仆人做了好事,做了該做的事以后,主人不单会赞美和欣赏,而且还会加以奖励和报答!
 
但怎样报答呢?这就是关键的所在了。
 
仆人想得到的报答,大概是主人给他一点什么东西,那是一些物质上的报酬;而主人要给的报答,却是他自己:他要把自己赏给仆人,他要亲自来伺候他们!
 
有些人把母亲亲手织的毛衣当宝贝,并戏称它做「温暖牌」,所以下面这首诗才能家传户晓、传诵千古:「慈母手中线,游子身上衣;临行密密缝,意恐迟迟归。谁言寸草心,报得三春晖?
 
但相信今天一定也有不少青年人,他们宁可花大钱去买名牌子的衣服,也不要母亲手织的、他们认为是很老土的毛衣!这也许就是上述仆人所要求的赏报,与主人要给的赏报之间的不同之处了。
 
今天福音也许还要说,做好事的本身,已经是一种赏报,用不著有人吹嘘,也不必要有人欣赏,更不需要什么报答。人人都做該做的事,大家心安理得,没有必要自吹自擂、自我膨胀:「我们不過是做了該做的事。
 
我今年五十七岁,满头白发,感慨韶华老去之际,写了一首打油诗,颇有上述的心境:「处处无家处处家,一生无愧亦无夸;苍桑历尽身犹健,白发原是好年华。」放下一切是非得失,以平常心去面对人生的一切,我们会快乐得多。
 
史记有「桃李不言,下自成蹊」一语,相信亦能为上述圣经作点注释。原来汉朝名将李广,忠肝义胆,清廉厚道,爱护属下,早已遠近闻名。所以他死時,无论和他认识与否,都由衷地哀悼他。史记的作者司马迁就用「桃李不言,下自成蹊」,来形容人们对李广自发的敬爱。就好像桃花李花都为人所喜爱,由於众人都来欣赏,所以在桃和李的树下,就自然被人走出路来一样。
 
我们做了好事,天主本身已经是我们的赏报,我们良心快乐、平安,也已经是最好的赏报,我们还要求什么别的赏报呢?做了該做的事,达到庄子所说的「至人无梦」的至乐境界了,为什么还要说多余的话呢?
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
 
Peaches and Plums do not Speak Unnecessarily
Nor do Loyal Servants Constantly Look for Rewards
 
First Reading (Hab 1: 2-3, 2: 2-4): Be patient and wait for God's action
Second Reading (2 Tim 1: 6-8, 13-14): Do not be ashamed to witness to the Lord
Gospel (Lk 17: 5-10): Disciples should be humble
Chinese classics:
-“A thread is in my fond mother's hand moving.
For her son to wear the clothes 'ere leaving.
With her whole heart she is sewing and sewing,
For fear I'll ever be roving and roving.
Who says the little soul of grass waving
Could for the warmth repay the sun of spring?” (1)
-“I have no home anywhere, my home is everywhere. As I reflect on my life I have nothing to regret nor anything to brag about. There have been hardships, but I am still physically fit. Despite my white hair there are still good years ahead.” (2)
-The peaches and plums do not speak, yet underneath them a path was formed.” (3)
-“The perfect man has no dreams.” (4)
 
“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!...The Lord replied, ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” (Lk 17; 5-10)
 
Why does Jesus say that after we have fulfilled our duty and done all that we were ordered to do, we should then say we are 'worthless slaves'? Nowadays both psychologists and educators encourage us to affirm and fulfill ourselves, become the whole person we are meant to be and be full of self-confidence. Are not the words of Jesus quoted above completely contrary to the thinking of people today? If we believe that 'each person is useful and has unique gifts,' how can we be ‘worthless slaves'?
 
To help us understand each aspect of our faith Scripture sometimes uses metaphors and different forms of speech to guide us. Sometimes there are even contradictory phrases so we can make comparisons and understand every level of the truth being presented.
 
But no matter how clear the words of Scripture are, we still need faith. With the light that comes from faith we must meditate on our faith so that we can understand more clearly God's action in our lives and better discern our relationship with God.
 
In other words, we need to use both our hearts and our minds to understand our faith. We must use our minds to ponder on our faith and our hearts to embrace that faith. We must let every aspect of faith including elements that may seem contradictory to permeate our entire lives so that life becomes one harmonious and unified whole.
 
Today's Gospel presents us with that kind of a contradictory situation. We have done all that we were supposed to do, then why should we still call ourselves 'worthless slaves'? In the same Gospel (Lk 12:37) why does Luke say that the master will reward his faithful servants?
 
What Luke says in his Gospel is that if the master finds his servants still awake when he returns from a wedding banquet, those servants are truly blessed: “The master will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them.” (Lk 12: 37) .
 
That is to say, when the servants have performed well and done what they should have done, not only will the master commend them and express appreciation for their work, he will reward them in return as well!
 
How will he reward them? That is the key point.
 
The reward the servants wanted from their master was probably some kind of gift, a material reward. But the reward the master wanted to give them was himself. He wanted to give himself to them, to come and serve them himself!
 
Some people treasure the warm clothes their mothers themselves knit for them, jokingly calling them 'A Warm Brand.' There is a traditional poem which has been handed down in many families:
“A thread is in my fond mother's hand moving,
For her son to wear the clothes 'ere leaving
With her whole heart she's sewing and sewing,
For fear I'll ever be roving and roving.
Who says the little soul of grass waving
Could for the warmth repay the sun of spring?”(1)
 
There are probably many young people today who would spend a lot of money to buy famous brand clothes rather than wear their mothers' hand-knit clothes. They think hand-made clothing is old-fashioned. The servants in the Gospel story were probably like that. The reward they hoped the master would grant was very different from what the master wished to give them.
 
Today's Gospel seems to say that doing something well is itself a reward and we need not boast about it. Nor should we look for others' appreciation, even less should we expect a reward. Everyone should do what he or she should do and be at peace about it. There is no need to talk about it or congratulate oneself. “we have only done what we ought to have done
 
I am fifty-seven years old this year (2000) and have a head full of white hair. Once when I was reflecting that perhaps the best years of my life were past, I wrote a little poem to express my sentiments: “I have no home anywhere, my home is everywhere. As I reflect on my life I have nothing to regret nor anything to brag about. There have been hardships, but I am still physically fit. Despite my white hair there are still good years ahead.”(2) If we can let go of any past loss or gain, failures or successes, and calmly face whatever life has in store for us, we will be much happier.
 
There is a quotation from the Book of History” that perhaps can be a footnote to today's Gospel. In the Han dynasty there was a famous loyal general Li Guang. He was known far and wide for his honesty and kindness, and his love for his subordinates. When he died, he was mourned deeply both by those who knew him as well as by those who did not. Si Ma Qian, the author of the Book of History, wrote a poetic couplet to describe peoples' spontaneous love and respect for Li Guang. He wrote, “The peaches and plums do not speak, yet underneath them a path was formed.” (3) Peoples' respect and love for Li Guang was much the same as the path worn thin under the peaches and plum trees. The flowers were so beautiful and popular that the many people who came to enjoy their beauty automatically paved a path under the fruit trees.
 
When we have done something good, God Himself is our reward. A clear conscience, peace of mind and heart, is already its own reward, what other reward do we want? Having done all that we should, we can attain that happy state of mind described by Zhuang Zi: “The perfect man has no dreams.” (4). Why would we speak of needing anything else?
 
(1) 慈母手中線,遊子身上衣;臨行密密縫,意恐遲遲歸。
(2) 誰言寸草心,報得三春暉?處處無家處處家,一生無愧亦無誇;蒼桑歷盡身猶健,白髮原是好年華。
(3) 桃李不言,下自成蹊。
(4) 至人無夢。

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徐錦堯@fr.luketsui.idv.hk 2019