常年期第十三主日 2020年06月28日


常年期第十三主日
 
十字架的矛盾,生命的弔詭
 
讀經一:(列下4:8-11,14-16a):叔能小鎮婦人款待厄里叟
讀經二:(羅6:3-11):基督徒已死於罪惡
福 音:(瑪10:37-42):人要背起自己的十字架
中國文化: 禍兮福之所倚,福兮禍之所伏。 塞翁失馬焉知非福。
曲則全,枉則直,窪則盈,敝則新,少則得,多則惑。
 
耶穌說:「誰愛父母勝過愛我,不配做我的人﹔誰愛兒女勝過愛我,不配做我的人。誰不背起自己的十字架跟隨我,不配做我的人。誰要保存自己的生命,反會喪失生命﹔誰為我的緣故喪失生命,必要獲得生命。」(瑪10:37-39)
 
這就是十字架的矛盾,生命的矛盾,生命的弔詭:因為我們相信,在基督內的死亡,就是生命。
 
保祿在羅馬人書這樣說:「我們已經藉洗禮與基督同死同葬,為的是要我們都能夠度新的生活。如果我們已經歷基督的死亡而與他結合,亦要經歷他的復活而與他結合。」(參考羅6:3-11)
 
老子說:「禍兮福之所倚,福兮禍之所伏。」災禍,有時是幸福的來源,而在幸福裡有時卻埋伏著災禍。這便是所謂「塞翁失馬焉知非福,塞翁得馬焉知非禍」的道理。那位塞翁失了一匹馬,人們都覺得可惜,怎料不久那匹馬帶了一群馬回來,所以失馬又怎知不是福呢?不料就在那群馬回來後,他的兒子就騎上其中一隻,以致跌傷了,所以得馬又怎麼知道不是災禍呢?
 
在這角度下,老子說了一番很弔詭、難明的話:「曲則全,枉則直,窪則盈,敝則新,少則得,多則惑。夫唯不爭,故天下莫能與之爭。」意思是說,委曲可以保全,屈伏反而能夠伸展。低窪得到充盈,敝舊才生出新的。得著少反而多得,貪多就會迷惑。正因為一個人不去跟別人爭,所以天下間沒有人能夠與他爭。
 
這都是生命的弔詭,十字架的矛盾。
 
天主教的十字架通常有「苦像」,即耶穌釘在十字架上的像。基督教朋友由於堅持不拜「偶像」,所以亦認為不應該恭敬在十字架上的「耶穌苦像」,所以他們的十字架沒有被釘的耶穌。
 
他們除了堅持不拜「像」這原因外,也是因為他們說,耶穌復活了。當我第一次進入基督教的教堂時,看到他們的十字架和十字架背後有光管發出光,我覺得很美。「基督復活了」,多美的意象!我也看過有些現代化的天主教堂畫的耶穌,好像一個跳舞的耶穌,也是因為耶穌復活了。我覺得這些都是對的、正確的,因為基督確實復活了。
 
但當自己年紀越來越大,生命的經歷越來越多時,我便發覺,始終苦像才是我們基督徒在世上的真正標記。
 
在現實的生命裏,我們真正的經驗並不是復活,而是死亡;我們真正經歷到的並不是快樂,而是痛苦。
 
記得很久以前,我有一次主持聖誕節子夜彌撒,禮成後大家很高興,於是一起上神父樓吃粥。我彈吉他,大家一起唱歌,好快樂。到了早上四時左右,曲終人散,我返回房間睡覺。一躺下來,眼望著天花板,忽然感覺到很空虛。
 
在絕對的熱鬧背後就是絕對的空虛,這是我們許多人的經驗;天下哪有不散的筵席,不走的朋友?
 
我們愛許多人,也有許多人愛我們,但又有哪些朋友或戀人,真能長相廝守?世界上最偉大的愛情、最深刻的快樂,背後總有一絲絲的哀愁。何況,「人生不如意事十常八九」,真正而持久的快樂,在塵世間怎能找到?
 
生命其實是一個向著死亡的奔赴,我們正在走向死亡、走向解體。生命其實是由一連串的痛苦組成的,如果將痛苦從生命中除去,可能生命已所餘無幾了。
 
那麼快樂在哪裏?幸福在哪裏?復活在哪裏?
 
當我們能夠由十字架的具體苦痛中經驗復活,由被釘的苦像上看到復活的基督時,我們才能明白甚麼叫復活。當我們跪在床邊為病重的父親祈禱,而當我們熱心唸經時,我們的父親剛剛斷氣,那時我們卻相信天主俯聽了我們的懇求,這時,我們才明白甚麼是禱告。
 
「誰要保存自己的生命,反會喪失生命,誰為我的緣故喪失生命,必要獲得生命。」在現世,沒有永久的復活﹔在現世,沒有純粹的快樂,因為在所有的快樂背後都隱藏著痛苦。我們必須學習在這具體的痛苦中,找尋快樂,在這具體的死亡中,經驗復活。
 
就讓我們注視著被釘十字架的基督,向他說:「主,你已經復活了!在我生命裏所經歷到的一切矛盾、痛苦、挫折,這些全部都是你的恩賜,都有永恆的價值。」
 
我們要敞開胸懷,懷抱十字架,懷抱被釘在十字架上的基督,擁抱生命中的一切,並相信在我們為基督而放棄生命的時候,我們便獲得生命,永恆的、更豐富的生命。
常年期第十三主日
 
十字架的矛盾,生命的弔诡
 
读经一:(列下4:8-11,14-16a):叔能小镇妇人款待厄里叟
读经二:(罗6:3-11):基督徒已死於罪恶
福 音:(玛10:37-42):人要背起自己的十字架
中国文化: 祸兮福之所倚,福兮祸之所伏。塞翁失马焉知非福。
曲则全,枉则直,洼则盈,敝则新,少则得,多则惑。
 
耶稣说:「谁爱父母胜過爱我,不配做我的人;谁爱儿女胜過爱我,不配做我的人。谁不背起自己的十字架跟随我,不配做我的人。谁要保存自己的生命,反会丧失生命;谁为我的缘故丧失生命,必要获得生命。」(玛10:37-39)
 
这就是十字架的矛盾,生命的矛盾,生命的弔诡:因为我们相信,在基督内的死亡,就是生命。
 
保禄在罗马人书这样说:「我们已经藉洗礼与基督同死同葬,为的是要我们都能够度新的生活。如果我们已经历基督的死亡而与他结合,亦要经历他的复活而与他结合。」(参考罗6:3-11)
 
老子说:「祸兮福之所倚,福兮祸之所伏。」灾祸,有時是幸福的来源,而在幸福里有時却埋伏著灾祸。这便是所谓「塞翁失马焉知非福,塞翁得马焉知非祸」的道理。那位塞翁失了一匹马,人们都觉得可惜,怎料不久那匹马带了一群马回来,所以失马又怎知不是福呢?不料就在那群马回来后,他的儿子就骑上其中一只,以致跌伤了,所以得马又怎么知道不是灾祸呢?
 
在这角度下,老子说了一番很弔诡、难明的话:「曲则全,枉则直,洼则盈,敝则新,少则得,多则惑。夫唯不争,故天下莫能与之争。」意思是说,委曲可以保全,屈伏反而能够伸展。低洼得到充盈,敝旧才生出新的。得著少反而多得,贪多就会迷惑。正因为一個人不去跟别人争,所以天下间没有人能够与他争。
 
这都是生命的弔诡,十字架的矛盾。
 
天主教的十字架通常有「苦像」,即耶稣钉在十字架上的像。基督教朋友由於坚持不拜「偶像」,所以亦认为不应該恭敬在十字架上的「耶稣苦像」,所以他们的十字架没有被钉的耶稣。
 
他们除了坚持不拜「像」这原因外,也是因为他们说,耶稣复活了。当我第一次进入基督教的教堂時,看到他们的十字架和十字架背后有光管发出光,我觉得很美。「基督复活了」,多美的意象!我也看過有些现代化的天主教堂画的耶稣,好像一個跳舞的耶稣,也是因为耶稣复活了。我觉得这些都是对的、正确的,因为基督确实复活了。
 
但当自己年纪越来越大,生命的经历越来越多時,我便发觉,始终苦像才是我们基督徒在世上的真正标记。
 
在现实的生命裏,我们真正的经验并不是复活,而是死亡;我们真正经历到的并不是快乐,而是痛苦。
 
记得很久以前,我有一次主持圣诞节子夜弥撒,礼成后大家很高兴,於是一起上神父楼吃粥。我弹吉他,大家一起唱歌,好快乐。到了早上四時左右,曲终人散,我返回房间睡觉。一躺下来,眼望著天花板,忽然感觉到很空虚。
 
在绝对的热闹背后就是绝对的空虚,这是我们许多人的经验;天下哪有不散的筵席,不走的朋友?
 
我们爱许多人,也有许多人爱我们,但又有哪些朋友或恋人,真能长相厮守?世界上最伟大的爱情、最深刻的快乐,背后总有一丝丝的哀愁。何况,「人生不如意事十常八九」,真正而持久的快乐,在尘世间怎能找到?
 
生命其实是一個向著死亡的奔赴,我们正在走向死亡、走向解体。生命其实是由一连串的痛苦组成的,如果将痛苦从生命中除去,可能生命已所余无幾了。
 
那么快乐在哪裏?幸福在哪裏?复活在哪裏?
 
当我们能够由十字架的具体苦痛中经验复活,由被钉的苦像上看到复活的基督時,我们才能明白甚么叫复活。当我们跪在床边为病重的父亲祈祷,而当我们热心念经時,我们的父亲刚刚断气,那時我们却相信天主俯听了我们的恳求,这時,我们才明白甚么是祷告。
 
「谁要保存自己的生命,反会丧失生命,谁为我的缘故丧失生命,必要获得生命。」在现世,没有永久的复活;在现世,没有纯粹的快乐,因为在所有的快乐背后都隐藏著痛苦。我们必须学习在这具体的痛苦中,找寻快乐,在这具体的死亡中,经验复活。
 
就让我们注视著被钉十字架的基督,向他说:「主,你已经复活了!在我生命裏所经历到的一切矛盾、痛苦、挫折,这些全部都是你的恩赐,都有永恒的价值。」
 
我们要敞開胸怀,怀抱十字架,怀抱被钉在十字架上的基督,拥抱生命中的一切,并相信在我们为基督而放弃生命的時候,我们便获得生命,永恒的、更丰富的生命。
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
 
The Contradiction of the Cross. The Paradox of Life
 
First Reading (2 Kings 4:8-11,14-16a): A Shunammite woman gave hospitality to Elisha
Second Reading (Rom 6:3-11): Christians have died to sin.
Gospel (Mt 10:37-42): Each one must carry one's own cross
Chinese Classics:
-“It is upon bad fortune that good fortune leans, upon good fortune that bad fortune rests.” (1)
-“The old man lost a horse. Who knows if it was not good fortune in disguise?” (2)
-“To remain whole, be twisted. To become straight, let yourself be bent. To become full, be hollow. Be tattered, that you may be renewed. Those that have little may get more. Those that have much are but perplexed.” (3)
 
Jesus said, ‘Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’ (Mt 10:37-39)
 
This is the contradiction of the cross and of life, and the unpredictable mystery of life: because we believe that death in Christ is indeed life.
 
The Book of Romans said, ‘We have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.’ (Ref Rom 6:3-11)
 
Lao Tze said, “It is upon bad fortune that good fortune leans, upon good fortune that bad fortune rests.”(1) Sometimes, bad fortune can be the source of good fortune, and lurking in good fortune is bad fortune. This is the line of reasoning behind “The old man lost a horse. Who knows if it was not good fortune in disguise? The old man got a horse. Who knows if it was not bad fortune in disguise?”(2) An old man lost a horse and everyone felt sorry for him. But who would expect that the horse would come back with a herd of horses? Therefore, who can say that losing a horse is not good fortune in disguise? However, his son rode on one of the horses and fell off from it, hurting his legs. Now, who can say that getting a herd of horses is not bad fortune in disguise?
 
Along this line of argument, Lao Tze said something bizarre and difficult to understand, “To remain whole be twisted. To become straight, let yourself be bent. To become full, be hollow. Be tattered, that you may be renewed. Those who have little may get more. Those who have much are but perplexed.”(3) What he meant was this: By giving concessions you can save the situation. By submitting you can have space to stretch out. Only the low and hollow places can be filled. Only by removing the old can the new come. Getting little is actually getting more. Craving for more will only confuse you. Because a person does not contend with anyone over anything, no one in the world can pick a fight with that person.
 
All of the above is the bizarreness of life, the agony of the cross.
 
On the Catholic cross one usually finds the figure of the suffering Christ. Since many other Christians do not want to worship idols, they do not wish to pay respect to the figure of a “suffering Jesus,” As a result, there is no figure of Jesus on their crosses.
 
Besides insisting one should not worship any idols, another reason according for them for the absence of Jesus on a crucifix is that Christ has risen. When I first visited a non-Catholic church and saw the cross and the fluorescent light coming from behind it, I thought was very beautiful. “Christ has risen” – How beautiful is the imagery! I have also seen in some modern churches Jesus drawn as dancing because he has risen. These are all correct, because Jesus has indeed risen.
 
However as I grow older and have more experience of life, I realize that it is indeed the figure of the suffering Christ that is the true sign of Christians on earth.
 
In the reality of life, it is death that we truly experience rather than resurrection; it is pain that we actually experience, not happiness.
 
I remember I once I celebrated Christmas Midnight Mass. Everyone was very joyful afterwards and we all went to my quarters for a midnight snack. I played the guitar while everyone sang. Around four in the morning everyone left and I went to my room for good. Once I lay down on the bed and started to gaze at the ceiling, I suddenly started to feel very empty.
 
From great fun and joy to a sudden feeling of emptiness is not an unusual experience. Many of us have had this experience. After all, how can there be a party which never ends, or friends who will never leave us?
 
We love many people, and we are also loved by many. However, how many of our friends or those we love will stay with us forever? In this world there are always traces of sadness behind the greatest love and deepest joy. Besides, it is only normal that not everything in life is to our liking.
 
“There are countless vicissitudes in human life.” Where can we find true and lasting joy in this worldly?
 
Life indeed is a constant chasing after death. We are gradually approaching death and disintegration. Life really consists of a series of sufferings. If we were to take away suffering from life there might as well be nothing left.
 
Then, where can we find happiness? Where can we find sheer bliss? Where is resurrection?
 
When we can experience resurrection from the real suffering of the cross, and see the risen Christ from the Christ crucified unto death, we will understand what resurrection means. When we kneel down to pray for our father who is suffering from serious illness, when we pray most zealously and yet our father stops breathing, and yet we are able still to believe that God has answered our prayers, then we truly understand what prayer is.
 
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” In the present life there is no eternal resurrection, there is no complete joy because behind happiness there is always hidden some pain. We must learn to look for happiness in suffering so that we can experience resurrection in death.
 
Let us gaze on Christ nailed to the cross and say to him, “Lord, you have already risen! All the agony, suffering and failure that I experience during my life are gifts from you and they all have an everlasting value.”
 
We must open ourselves and embrace the cross, embrace Christ who is nailed to the cross, embrace all that is part of life and believe that it is exactly when we lose our lives for Christ’s sake that we find life, an everlasting and more abundant life.
 
(1) 禍兮福之所倚,福兮禍之所伏。
(2) 塞翁失馬焉知非福。
(3) 曲則全,枉則直,窪則盈,敝則新,少則得,多則惑。

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徐錦堯@fr.luketsui.idv.hk 2020