四旬期第三主日 2019年03月24日


四旬期第三主日

勤懇耕耘,積善避禍

讀經一:(出3:1-8,13-15):梅瑟被召
讀經二:(格前10:1-6,10-12):應以以民的不信為鑑
福 音:(路13:1-9):悔改的必要
中國文化:天行有常。應之以治則吉,應之以亂則凶。循道而不忒,則天不能禍;背道而妄行,則天不能使之吉。
夫功之成,非成於成之日,蓋必有所由起;禍之作,不作於作之日,亦必有所由兆。
禍患常出於忽微,而智勇多困於所溺。

有一個人在自己的葡萄園裡,種了一棵無花果樹;他來看這棵樹有沒有結果實,卻沒有找到,便對園丁說:「你看,三年來,我一直在這棵樹上找果子,卻沒有找到,砍了它罷,何必讓它白佔土地呢?」園丁回答說:「主人,再留它一年罷!等我把它周圍的泥土掘鬆,加上肥料;將來如果結果實便算了;否則,我才把它砍掉。」
(路13:6-9)

種果樹的人,都希望果樹能結果子,不能結果子的樹,便再沒有任何用途,它只是白佔土地而已;被園主砍掉,是它唯一的命運和收場。

但園丁卻要求園主給這棵暫時不結果子的樹一個機會。不過,園丁並不是白白地等待這棵樹去結果,他努力地、勤懇地作翻土和施肥的工作,增加果樹結果的機會。世上沒有不勞而穫這回事。

今天的福音還說了另一個故事,很值得我們警惕。

猶太人普遍認為,一切的災難和不幸,都是天主的懲罰。那些在奉獻祭品時被比拉多屠殺的加里肋亞人,和那十八個被史羅亞塔倒下來壓死的人,表面上似乎都是因為他們惡貫滿盈,才招致這樣的死於非命。但耶穌的話很清楚:「你們以為這些人的罪比其他人的罪都大嗎?我告訴你們:如果你們不悔改,也都要同樣喪亡!」(路13:2-3)

耶穌的意思是:其實我們所有人都是罪人、有缺失的人,如果我們遭到什麼災禍,那都是我們罪有應得,我們的罪惡一點都不比那些加里肋亞人或那些被壓死的人輕。沒遭大難,只是由於天主的慈悲,未忍即時懲罰我們罷了。

我們只有一個選擇:悔改!

所謂惡、所謂罪,並不只是指一、兩個偶然而獨立的惡行為,而是指一個人的整個存在、整個生活方式、整個人生方向。我們犯罪,是因為我們背叛天主、走向邪惡之途、向墮落下滑;我們背道妄行,我們正走在一條背離天主的單行道上,越走越遠。

而耶穌要求的悔改,也不只是要求人改掉一、兩個惡劣的行為,而是要求一個人徹底的皈依,整個的改變,回過頭來重新走上正路,向著天主走去。

我們有時會把天主當作是一個執行刑罰的劊子手,其實,在絕大多數的情況下,是我們自己在懲罰自己。

荀子說:「天行有常。應之以治則吉,應之以亂則凶。循道而不忒,則天不能禍。背道而妄行,則天不能使之吉。」(荀子:天論)意思是,天道運行,有一定的規律,順應天道就會吉利,背離天道就有災殃;禍福和吉凶治亂,都是我們循道而行或背道而馳的自然結果,我們自己要負上全部責任。荀子甚至認為,如果我們能按生命和大自然的規律去辦事,連老天爺也不能給我們降災,但如果我們逆天而行,就是老天爺也不能保住我們。

蘇東坡在他的《管仲論》中也說:「夫功之成,非成於成之日,蓋必有所由起;禍之作,不作於作之日,亦必有所由兆。」任何的成敗得失、禍福善惡,都不是偶然發生的,而是一個人長期生活,及以許多大大小小的行為累積起來的結果。成功固然有起因,禍患也有它的預兆。一不小心,便會大禍臨頭,這就是所謂的「禍患常出於忽微,而智勇多困於所溺」,即是說,一切的大禍患都是由小疏忽而引致的,即使是大智大勇的人,都會因為自己的小毛病而失足、跌倒。

待我們的毛病養成了,惡行昭彰了,一切的壞後果都出現了,我們好像是「受罰」了,這時,我們便應知道,這不是天主在罰我們,也不是世界、惡魔或其他什麼的在害我們,我們其實是一直在自己害自己!

即使我們沒有害自己,我們又做了什麼值得我們引以自豪的呢?主人要在我們這棵果樹上收集果子的時候,我們又有什麼可以拿出來呢?我們不是應該及早在我們的生命中,勤勤懇懇地,「掘鬆周圍的泥土,加上肥料」,好讓我們的生命能結出善果嗎?

 

 

四旬期第三主日

勤恳耕耘,积善避祸

读经一:(出3:1-8,13-15):梅瑟被召
读经二:(格前10:1-6,10-12):应以以民的不信为鉴
福 音:(路13:1-9):悔改的必要
中国文化:天行有常。应之以治则吉,应之以亂则凶。循道而不忒,则天不能祸;背道而妄行,则天不能使之吉。
夫功之成,非成於成之日,盖必有所由起;祸之作,不作於作之日,亦必有所由兆。
祸患常出於忽微,而智勇多困於所溺。

有一個人在自己的葡萄园里,种了一棵无花果树;他来看这棵树有没有结果实,却没有找到,便对园丁说:「你看,三年来,我一直在这棵树上找果子,却没有找到,砍了它罢,何必让它白占土地呢?」园丁回答说:「主人,再留它一年罢!等我把它周围的泥土掘松,加上肥料;将来如果结果实便算了;否则,我才把它砍掉。」
(路13:6-9)

种果树的人,都希望果树能结果子,不能结果子的树,便再没有任何用途,它只是白占土地而已;被园主砍掉,是它唯一的命运和收场。

但园丁却要求园主给这棵暂時不结果子的树一個机会。不過,园丁并不是白白地等待这棵树去结果,他努力地、勤恳地作翻土和施肥的工作,增加果树结果的机会。世上没有不劳而获这回事。

今天的福音还说了另一個故事,很值得我们警惕。

犹太人普遍认为,一切的灾难和不幸,都是天主的惩罚。那些在奉献祭品時被比拉多屠杀的加里肋亚人,和那十八個被史罗亚塔倒下来压死的人,表面上似乎都是因为他们恶贯满盈,才招致这样的死於非命。但耶稣的话很清楚:「你们以为这些人的罪比其他人的罪都大吗?我告诉你们:如果你们不悔改,也都要同样丧亡!」(路13:2-3)

耶稣的意思是:其实我们所有人都是罪人、有缺失的人,如果我们遭到什么灾祸,那都是我们罪有应得,我们的罪恶一点都不比那些加里肋亚人或那些被压死的人轻。没遭大难,只是由於天主的慈悲,未忍即時惩罚我们罢了。

我们只有一個选择:悔改!

所谓恶、所谓罪,并不只是指一、两個偶然而独立的恶行为,而是指一個人的整個存在、整個生活方式、整個人生方向。我们犯罪,是因为我们背叛天主、走向邪恶之途、向堕落下滑;我们背道妄行,我们正走在一条背離天主的单行道上,越走越遠。

而耶稣要求的悔改,也不只是要求人改掉一、两個恶劣的行为,而是要求一個人彻底的皈依,整個的改变,回過头来重新走上正路,向著天主走去。

我们有時会把天主当作是一個执行刑罚的刽子手,其实,在绝大多数的情况下,是我们自己在惩罚自己。

荀子说:「天行有常。应之以治则吉,应之以亂则凶。循道而不忒,则天不能祸。背道而妄行,则天不能使之吉。」(荀子:天论)意思是,天道运行,有一定的规律,顺应天道就会吉利,背離天道就有灾殃;祸福和吉凶治亂,都是我们循道而行或背道而驰的自然结果,我们自己要负上全部責任。荀子甚至认为,如果我们能按生命和大自然的规律去办事,连老天爷也不能给我们降灾,但如果我们逆天而行,就是老天爷也不能保住我们。

苏东坡在他的《管仲论》 中也说:「夫功之成,非成於成之日,盖必有所由起;祸之作,不作於作之日,亦必有所由兆。」任何的成败得失、祸福善恶,都不是偶然发生的,而是一個人长期生活,及以许多大大小小的行为累积起来的结果。成功固然有起因,祸患也有它的预兆。一不小心,便会大祸临头,这就是所谓的「祸患常出於忽微,而智勇多困於所溺」,即是说,一切的大祸患都是由小疏忽而引致的,即使是大智大勇的人,都会因为自己的小毛病而失足、跌倒。

待我们的毛病养成了,恶行昭彰了,一切的坏后果都出现了,我们好像是「受罚」了,这時,我们便应知道,这不是天主在罚我们,也不是世界、恶魔或其他什么的在害我们,我们其实是一直在自己害自己!

即使我们没有害自己,我们又做了什么值得我们引以自豪的呢?主人要在我们这棵果树上收集果子的時候,我们又有什么可以拿出来呢?我们不是应該及早在我们的生命中,勤勤恳恳地,「掘松周围的泥土,加上肥料」,好让我们的生命能结出善果吗?

 

 

Third Sunday of Lent

Plow and Weed Earnestly - Do Good and Avoid Calamity

First Reading: (Ex 3:1-8, 13-15): Moses is called
Second Reading (1 Cor 10: 1-6, 10-12): Use the Israelites' unfaithfulness as an example
Gospel (Lk 13: 1-9): The need for repentance

Chinese classics:
-“The law of nature follows a course. Live in accordance with it and it brings good fortune; act against it and it brings misfortune. Follow the path and do not change it and heaven itself cannot cause calamity; act foolishly in opposition to it and heaven cannot turn it into good fortune.”(1)
-“Success does not come on the date the success is made known, there must be a beginning; disaster does not arrive on the date disaster strikes, there must be some omens before.”(2)
-“Disasters and trouble often arise from oversight, even intelligent and brave persons
are sometimes trapped in the things they lust.”(3)

“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” (Lk 13: 6-9)

Those who plant fruit trees hope the trees will bear fruit. Trees that cannot bear fruit are useless and are just taking up space; their sole fate is to be cut down by the owner of the garden.

But the gardener begged the owner to give the unproductive tree one more chance. However, the gardener did not just sit and wait for the tree to produce fruit. On the contrary, he industriously plowed the ground and added fertilizer to the soil so as to increase the chance of fertility. In this world if we do not put forth energy we will not gain anything.

Today's Gospel records another story worth our attention. The Jewish people thought that all misfortune and disaster were punishments from God. It seemed to them that the Galileans who had been killed by Pontius Pilate when offering sacrifice and the eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them had done evil deeds and so were punished. But Jesus said very clearly, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did!” (Lk 13: 2-3) Jesus meant that we all really are sinners, all of us have faults. If we meet with disaster it is what we deserve, and our sins are not less than the Galileans or the eighteen people crushed to death. If we do not meet with a major misfortune it is only because God is merciful and refrains from punishing us immediately.

We have only one choice: Repent!

When we talk about evil and sin we do not mean one or two isolated evil deeds. We are talking about a person's whole existence, entire lifestyle, life orientation. We commit sin because we turn from God and follow a path towards evil. Sin becomes habitual and we walk away from God and from life, gradually straying further and further away.

The repentance that Jesus asks of us is not just changing one or two bad habits, but a complete conversion, an entire change of life, a total turning from evil to embrace a new life. Thereafter we will walk a road of righteousness that directs us straight to God.

We sometimes act as if God is executor of the death penalty, but actually more often than not it is we who punish ourselves.

In the Philosophy of the Sky Xun Zi said, “The law of nature follows a course. Live in accordance with it and it brings good fortune, act in contradiction to it and it will bring misfortune. Follow the path and do not change it, and heaven itself cannot cause calamity; act foolishly in opposition to it and heaven cannot turn it into good fortune.” (1) This means that the law of nature follows a regular course. Following it brings good fortune, going against it brings calamity. Disaster and good fortune, good and bad omens, order and confusion, are the natural results of our following towards or against this right way. We ourselves must bear the responsibility. Xun Zi went even further to say that if we act according to the course of life and nature, even heaven is unable to harm us. But if we act in contradiction to this course, then heaven itself is not able to save us.

Su Dong Po in the Theses on Gun Jong said, “Success does not come on the date the success is made known. There must be a beginning. Disaster does not arrive on the date disaster strikes. There must be omens beforehand.” (2) Success and failure, disaster and good fortune, goodness and evil, do not come by accident. They are the result of a person's way of life and an accumulation of large and small acts of behavior over a period of time. There are causes for success, forewarnings of disaster. When one is not careful, disaster will strike. This is what is meant by “Disaster and trouble often arise from oversight. Intelligent and brave people are often trapped in the things they lust.” (3) Disasters are caused by slight negligences. Even wise and courageous people may stumble and fall because of their own small faults.

If we allow our faults to accumulate unrestrainedly, they will eventually become evil deeds with many bad results. We may feel we are 'being punished'. At that time we should recall that it is not God who is punishing, nor the 'world' or the devil or anything else. In actuality all along we have been hurting ourselves.

Even if we have not hurt ourselves, what have we done of which we can be proud? When the owner of the garden wants to pick fruit from our tree, what can we bring forth? Should we not diligently 'plow the ground and add fertilizer to the soil' in our life now, so that our lives can produce good fruit?

(1)天行有常。應之以治則吉,應之以亂則凶。循道而不忒,則天不能禍;背道而妄行,則天不能使之吉。
(2)夫功之成,非成於成之日,蓋必有所由起;禍之作,不作於作之日,亦必有所由兆。
(3)禍患常出於忽微,而智勇多困於所溺。

 

 

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徐錦堯@fr.luketsui.idv.hk 2020