常年二十主日: 普世救恩 人人平等 2020年08月16日


常年期第二十主日
 

 

菊 殘 猶 有 傲 霜 枝
 
讀經一:(依56:1,6-7):只要外邦人愛慕上主,終為上主所接納
讀經二:(羅11:13-15,29-32):外邦人或猶太人最終都得天主的救恩
福 音:(瑪15:21-28):客納罕婦人的信德
中國文化: 寶劍鋒從磨礪出,梅花香自苦寒來。
 

 

依撒意亞先知這樣說︰「至於那些外邦人,如果他們皈依上主,事奉上主……我要帶領他們登上我的聖山,使他們在我的祈禱之所,滿心歡樂……因為,我的殿宇將稱為萬民祈禱之所。」(參考依56:1,6-7)
 
依撒意亞先知的說話是很革命性的,因為對猶太人來說,上主只是他們的天主,只有他們才是天主的選民。所有外邦人都是注定要受罰的,一切的外邦人都不屬於上主,都會被上主捨棄。現在依撒意亞先知說,外邦人和猶太選民已沒有分別,如果他們皈依、侍奉上主,上主一樣會帶領他們往上主的聖山,使他們在上主的祈禱之所內滿心歡喜。
 
在猶太人的歷史,或是在古經中,上主常被形容為亞巴郎的天主。
 
天主像是一個「家神」(亞巴郎家的神),或是一個「族神」(以色列民族的神)。上主有時甚至被描寫成為一位「戰神」,一位和他的選民一起作戰,一起消滅外邦人的神。
 
這個上主只是一小撮人的天主。但是依撒意亞先知清楚的告訴我們,這個上主是萬民的天主。
 
猶太人的思想就是現在很多所謂「基要派」人士,或者原教旨主意者的思想。這些人都把上主放在自己的口袋中,認為上主只是他們的天主。
 
今天的福音說了一個更好的故事,就是客納罕婦人的故事。客納罕人也是所謂「外邦人」的一種,是猶太人所鄙視的,且被認為是上主所捨棄的一群人。
 
一次,有一個客納罕婦人見到耶穌,便高聲叫喊說︰「主!達味之子,可憐我吧!我的女兒被魔鬼糾纏的好苦啊!」耶穌卻一句話都不回答她。他的門徒就上前求他說︰「打發她走吧!因為她在我們後面不停地喊叫。」耶穌回答說︰「我被派遣,只是為了以色列家迷失的羊。」
 
耶穌這句話反映了很多當時猶太人的心態和信念:上主是拯救以色列人的天主,是屬於以色列民族的天主。
 
那個客納罕婦人,那個非天主選民的婦人,來叩拜耶穌說︰「主,援助我吧!」耶穌回答說︰「拿兒女的餅扔給小狗是不對的。」意思很明顯:狗是狗,人是人;我們人吃的是人的食物,你們這些如狗一樣的人,只配用狗的食物。這是一種十分嚴峻的拒絕,也是充滿偏見的話。
 
但那位客納罕婦人絲毫不把這些話當作侮辱,她回答說︰「是啊!可是小狗也可以吃主人桌上掉下來的碎屑。」
 
耶穌回答說︰「啊!婦人,妳的信德真大,就按照妳的願望,給妳成就吧!從那時刻起,她的女兒就痊癒了。(參考瑪15:21-28)
 
這故事清楚告訴我們:一個外邦人、一個沒有信仰的人,極有可能比一個自稱為有信仰的所謂「選民」,有更大的信德。
 
有一副對聯說得很好︰「寶劍鋒從磨礪出,梅花香自苦寒來。」一把寶劍為什麼會鋒利?是因為它經歷很長久的磨礪,在磨刀石上磨了很久,所以它的刀鋒可以吹毛得過、削鐵如泥。梅花是香的,尤其在嚴寒的冬天,在世界陷入苦寒的時候,我們看見梅花一枝獨秀、挺拔地開放,發出幽香。環境越凍,天氣越冷,梅花越香。
 
這位客納罕婦人可說經得起磨礪,也經得起苦寒。
 
耶穌的話,其實很傷她的心、她的自尊,甚至很傷她的民族感情。不過,這並不是耶穌的話,他只是反映當時人的偏見;又或者,耶穌是要用這些話去試鍊這個婦人。果然,這個女人不負耶穌所望,她說出了一句十分謙虛的說話︰「可是連小狗也可以吃主人桌上掉下來的碎屑。
 
我們的信德又怎樣?我們經得起考驗嗎?我們怕不怕苦寒?我們願意衝破一切,去皈依、去相信嗎?依撒意亞先知說得很清楚︰「若果外邦人皈依上主、侍奉上主、愛慕上主、做他的僕人,我就要帶領他們登上我的聖山。」
 
反過來說,所謂上主選民,所謂基督徒,我們有否皈依上主?我們接受了洗禮,但我們是否真的皈依?我們領了「教友証書」,但我們有否侍奉上主?我們的名字叫伯多祿、若望、瑪利亞,我們接受了一個基督徒的名字,但我們有否做上主的僕人?我們有否固守我們和上主的盟約?我們領洗的時候,曾經向上主許諾過、發過誓,要棄絕魔鬼、相信天主、愛我們的鄰人。這一切我們有否固守?
 
選民及非選民,信徒及非信徒,並不是一個名字上的問題,是真正的皈依、侍奉、愛慕、固守的問題。只有這樣,我們才可被稱為上主的子民。
 
常年期第二十主日
 

 

菊 残 犹 有 傲 霜 枝
 
读经一:(依56:1,6-7):只要外邦人爱慕上主,终为上主所接纳
读经二:(罗11:13-15,29-32):外邦人或犹太人最终都得天主的救恩
福 音:(玛15:21-28):客纳罕妇人的信德
中国文化: 宝劍锋从磨砺出,梅花香自苦寒来。
 

 

依撒意亚先知这样说∶「至於那些外邦人,如果他们皈依上主,事奉上主……我要带领他们登上我的圣山,使他们在我的祈祷之所,满心欢乐……因为,我的殿宇将称为万民祈祷之所。」(参考依56:1,6-7)
 
依撒意亚先知的说话是很革命性的,因为对犹太人来说,上主只是他们的天主,只有他们才是天主的选民。所有外邦人都是注定要受罚的,一切的外邦人都不属於上主,都会被上主舍弃。现在依撒意亚先知说,外邦人和犹太选民已没有分别,如果他们皈依、侍奉上主,上主一样会带领他们往上主的圣山,使他们在上主的祈祷之所内满心欢喜。
 
在犹太人的历史,或是在古经中,上主常被形容为亚巴郎的天主。
 
天主像是一個「家神」(亚巴郎家的神),或是一個「族神」(以色列民族的神)。上主有時甚至被描写成为一位「战神」,一位和他的选民一起作战,一起消灭外邦人的神。
 
这個上主只是一小撮人的天主。但是依撒意亚先知清楚的告诉我们,这個上主是万民的天主。
 
犹太人的思想就是现在很多所谓「基要派」人士,或者原教旨主意者的思想。这些人都把上主放在自己的口袋中,认为上主只是他们的天主。
 
今天的福音说了一個更好的故事,就是客纳罕妇人的故事。客纳罕人也是所谓「外邦人」的一种,是犹太人所鄙视的,且被认为是上主所舍弃的一群人。
 
一次,有一個客纳罕妇人见到耶稣,便高声叫喊说∶「主!达味之子,可怜我吧!我的女儿被魔鬼纠缠的好苦啊!」耶稣却一句话都不回答她。他的门徒就上前求他说∶「打发她走吧!因为她在我们后面不停地喊叫。」耶稣回答说∶「我被派遣,只是为了以色列家迷失的羊。」
 
耶稣这句话反映了很多当時犹太人的心态和信念:上主是拯救以色列人的天主,是属於以色列民族的天主。
 
那個客纳罕妇人,那個非天主选民的妇人,来叩拜耶稣说∶「主,援助我吧!」耶稣回答说∶「拿儿女的饼扔给小狗是不对的。」意思很明显:狗是狗,人是人;我们人吃的是人的食物,你们这些如狗一样的人,只配用狗的食物。这是一种十分严峻的拒绝,也是充满偏见的话。
 
但那位客纳罕妇人丝毫不把这些话当作侮辱,她回答说∶「是啊!可是小狗也可以吃主人桌上掉下来的碎屑。」
 
耶稣回答说∶「啊!妇人,你的信德真大,就按照你的願望,给你成就吧!从那時刻起,她的女儿就痊愈了。(参考玛15:21-28)
 
这故事清楚告诉我们:一個外邦人、一個没有信仰的人,极有可能比一個自称为有信仰的所谓「选民」,有更大的信德。
 
有一副对联说得很好∶「宝劍锋从磨砺出,梅花香自苦寒来。」一把宝劍为什么会锋利?是因为它经历很长久的磨砺,在磨刀石上磨了很久,所以它的刀锋可以吹毛得過、削铁如泥。梅花是香的,尤其在严寒的冬天,在世界陷入苦寒的時候,我们看见梅花一枝独秀、挺拔地開放,发出幽香。环境越冻,天气越冷,梅花越香。
 
这位客纳罕妇人可说经得起磨砺,也经得起苦寒。
 
耶稣的话,其实很伤她的心、她的自尊,甚至很伤她的民族感情。不過,这并不是耶稣的话,他只是反映当時人的偏见;又或者,耶稣是要用这些话去试炼这個妇人。果然,这個女人不负耶稣所望,她说出了一句十分谦虚的说话∶「可是连小狗也可以吃主人桌上掉下来的碎屑。
 
我们的信德又怎样?我们经得起考验吗?我们怕不怕苦寒?我们願意冲破一切,去皈依、去相信吗?依撒意亚先知说得很清楚∶「若果外邦人皈依上主、侍奉上主、爱慕上主、做他的仆人,我就要带领他们登上我的圣山。」
 
反過来说,所谓上主选民,所谓基督徒,我们有否皈依上主?我们接受了洗礼,但我们是否真的皈依?我们领了「教友证书」,但我们有否侍奉上主?我们的名字叫伯多禄、若望、玛利亚,我们接受了一個基督徒的名字,但我们有否做上主的仆人?我们有否固守我们和上主的盟约?我们领洗的時候,曾经向上主许诺過、发過誓,要弃绝魔鬼、相信天主、爱我们的邻人。这一切我们有否固守?
 
选民及非选民,信徒及非信徒,并不是一個名字上的問题,是真正的皈依、侍奉、爱慕、固守的問题。只有这样,我们才可被称为上主的子民。
 

TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

A Wilted Chrysanthemum Still Has a Proud Frosted Branch

First Reading (Is 56:1,6-7): The Gentiles who love the Lord will be accepted
Second Reading (Rom 11:13-15,29-32): Both Gentiles and Jews can obtain God’s salvation
Gospel (Mt 15:21-28): The faith of the Canaanite woman

Chinese Classics
“The sharp edge of a sword comes from polishing, The fragrance of the plum flowers comes from the bitter cold.”
 (1)

The book of Isaiah said,’ the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him …… these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer ……for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.’ (Ref Is 56:1,6-7)

Isaiah’s words were very revolutionary because according to the Jews, the Lord was their God only, and only they were God’s Chosen People. All other people (Gentiles) were destined for punishment, none of the Gentiles belonged to God and God had abandoned them. Now Isaiah says there was no difference between Gentiles and Jews. If they were converted and served the Lord, in the same way God would bring them to God’s holy mountain and make them joyful in God’s house of prayer.

Throughout the history of the Jews and throughout the Old Testament, the image of God was one of the God of Abraham.

God was like a ‘family God’ (the family of Abraham), or a tribal God (the God of the tribe of Israel). God was even portrayed as a ‘God of war’ who together with the Chosen People destroyed the Gentiles.

This God was God of only a small inconsequential group of people. But Isaiah said clearly that God was the Lord of all people.

The Jewish people’s thinking was similar to that of present day Christian fundamentalists or fundamentalists of other kinds. They lock up God into their own inner circle; they put God in their pockets, and think that God belongs to themselves only.

Today’s Gospel records an interesting story, the story of a Canaanite woman. The Canaanites were what we would call Gentiles. The Jews despised them and considered them a group whom God had abandoned.

Once a Canaanite woman saw Jesus and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. His disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’

Jesus’ words reflected the attitude of the Jews of his time; God was the Savior of the Israelites and belonged to the tribe of Israel.

The Canaanite woman, who was not one of the chosen people, came and knelt before Jesus, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’

But the Canaanite woman did not take these words as an insult. She said, ‘Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’

Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly. (Ref 15:21-28)

This account tells us clearly that a ‘Gentile,’ a person without belief, can have greater faith than those who consider themselves people of faith, part of the ‘Chosen People.’

There is a very meaningful couplet: “The sharp edge of a sword comes from polishing, The fragrance of the plum flowers comes from the bitter cold.” Why was the sword so sharp? It was because the sword had undergone a long period of polishing. It was grinded against the polishing stone for such a long time that the edge was so fine it could slice through things as thin as hair or as hard as iron. The plum flowers have a very sweet smell, especially in the severe winter. When the world is suffering from the bitter cold, we will see the plum flowers standing upright and blooming brilliantly, giving out the sweetest fragrance. The colder it is, the sweeter the flowers.

One could say the Canaanite woman had been ‘polished’ and gone through the ‘bitter winter.’

Jesus’ words would have hurt her deeply and wounded her self-respect, even her sense of tribal identity. But they were only Jesus’ words reflecting current prejudice. Or perhaps Jesus used these words to try the woman’s faith. In the end she measured up to Jesus’ hope. She answered him with great humility, “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

What kind of faith do we have? Have we gone through testing? Are we afraid of the ‘bitter winter’? Are we willing to be converted, to undergo all for the sake of faith? Isaiah says clearly, ‘the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, minister to him – these I will bring to my holy mountain.’ And again, those called the ‘Lord’s Chosen People, those of us called ‘Christians,’ have we been converted? We have been baptized but are we really converted to the Lord? We have a Baptismal certificate, but do we serve the Lord? Our name may be Peter or John or Mary, we have received a Christian name, but do we adhere firmly to the covenant we made with God? When we were baptized we made a promise to God, vowed to reject the devil and have faith in God and love our neighbor. Do we firmly adhere to all of this?

Chosen People or not, believers or non-believers, are not a matter of name only, but rather a matter of conversion, service, love and faithfulness. Only in this way can we be called the Lord’s people.

(1) 寶劍鋒從磨礪出,梅花香自苦寒來。

 

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徐錦堯@fr.luketsui.idv.hk 2020