將臨1:危機意識 2020年11月29日


他告訴他們:「父以自己的權柄所定的時候和日期,不是你們應當知道的。」(宗1:7)

耶穌甚至直認連他自己也不知道那個時刻:「至於那日子和那時刻,除了父以外,誰也不知道,連天上的天使和子都不知道。」(谷13:32)

連天上的天使和「子」都不知道的事,居然有人自稱知道,而且大事宣揚,亦可算是無中生有、胡說八道的極致了。

曾經有人詢問孔子有關死人有沒有知覺的問題。孔子回答說:「如果我說死人『有知覺』,我就害怕有些人會『妨生而送死』。如果我說死人『無知覺』,我又擔心有些人不去埋葬去世的父母,使他們暴骨荒野。所以我無論怎麼回答,對你們都沒有什麼好處。其實如果你們要知道死人有無知覺,等你們死時就會知道了,何必現在就問這問題呢?

孔子的確是一個「正視人生」的聖哲!他不多談來世,也不信口開河地奢談自己不懂的、超越自己經驗的事;如果他談來世,也是為使人能更好地活於今世。

耶穌也是一樣。有些事情,耶穌是情願放在天父的手中而不刻意去過問的。因為他是真人,所以他樂於接受「道成肉身」、「降生奧蹟」所帶來的限制。

耶穌甘願不知道的事??世界末日的準確日期,我們又何必枉費心思、誠惶誠恐、自欺欺人地去圖謀和計算呢?

今日的經文要我們深思和深信的,是主一定要再來;唯一不清楚的是他再來的日期。而正因為我們不知道那日期,不知道主再來的準確時刻,所以我們便必須使我們整個的一生,都是一個準備的日子,時時刻刻都要準備,在任何情況中都作出妥善的準備,不能有任何的疏忽、鬆懈或麻痺大意。

我們確是活在未來的陰影中,但這正是做人的樂趣。

如果我們盡好每天愛主愛人的本分,作好生活中的每一件大小事情,做一個忠心的好僕人,度一種虔敬的生活;每天都沒有留下任何一個仇怨未曾和解,任何時候都沒有留下任何一個債項未曾清還,該做的事亦已全部完成。那麼,主什麼時候再來,又有什麼關係呢?難道假如主晚一些來,我們就可以放肆地、無聊地生活嗎?

所以,如果我們隨時作好準備,「他或許傍晚,或許夜半,或許雞啼時,或許天亮時」要來,我們都會以歡欣的心情去迎接他的。因為這正是我們回歸父家,領受永生賞報的機會和時刻。

他告诉他们:「父以自己的权柄所定的時候和日期,不是你们应当知道的。」(宗1:7)

耶稣甚至直认连他自己也不知道那個時刻:「至於那日子和那時刻,除了父以外,谁也不知道,连天上的天使和子都不知道。」(谷13:32)

连天上的天使和「子」都不知道的事,居然有人自称知道,而且大事宣扬,亦可算是无中生有、胡说八道的极致了。

曾经有人询問孔子有关死人有没有知觉的問题。孔子回答说:「如果我说死人『有知觉』,我就害怕有些人会『妨生而送死』。如果我说死人『无知觉』,我又担心有些人不去埋葬去世的父母,使他们暴骨荒野。所以我无论怎么回答,对你们都没有什么好处。其实如果你们要知道死人有无知觉,等你们死時就会知道了,何必现在就問这問题呢?

孔子的确是一個「正视人生」的圣哲!他不多谈来世,也不信口開河地奢谈自己不懂的、超越自己经验的事;如果他谈来世,也是为使人能更好地活於今世。

耶稣也是一样。有些事情,耶稣是情願放在天父的手中而不刻意去過問的。因为他是真人,所以他乐於接受「道成肉身」、「降生奥迹」所带来的限制。

耶稣甘願不知道的事??世界末日的准确日期,我们又何必枉费心思、诚惶诚恐、自欺欺人地去图谋和计算呢?

今日的经文要我们深思和深信的,是主一定要再来;唯一不清楚的是他再来的日期。而正因为我们不知道那日期,不知道主再来的准确時刻,所以我们便必须使我们整個的一生,都是一個准备的日子,時時刻刻都要准备,在任何情况中都作出妥善的准备,不能有任何的疏忽、松懈或麻痹大意。

我们确是活在未来的阴影中,但这正是做人的乐趣。

如果我们尽好每天爱主爱人的本分,作好生活中的每一件大小事情,做一個忠心的好仆人,度一种虔敬的生活;每天都没有留下任何一個仇怨未曾和解,任何時候都没有留下任何一個债项未曾清还,該做的事亦已全部完成。那么,主什么時候再来,又有什么关系呢?难道假如主晚一些来,我们就可以放肆地、无聊地生活吗?

所以,如果我们随時作好准备,「他或许傍晚,或许夜半,或许鸡啼時,或许天亮時」要来,我们都会以欢欣的心情去迎接他的。因为这正是我们回归父家,领受永生赏报的机会和時刻。

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Knowing and not knowing versus real living (1)

First Reading: (Is 63:16-17; 64:1,3-8): The Israelites prayed and repented
Second Reading: (1 Cor 1:3-9): God will strengthen His Disciples
Gospel: (Mk: 3:33-37): Be on the watch and keep awake
Chinese Classics: “Do the dead have consciousness or do they not? 
(2)

“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake - for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.” (Mk 13:33-36)

We must be preparing for Jesus' Second Coming at all times. He will come to judge and take account of each person's good and evil deeds. The advice Jesus gave to His disciples is the same advice he gives to all people: And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.(Mk 13:37)

We don't know the day when Jesus will come again or the exact time for the end of the world. But each of us must be on the watch, be alert, waiting for Jesus' second coming.

Many people find it interesting to speculate about the time for the end of the world. Since the 19th century, some Christian Fundamentalists have predicted many times the exact time of the end of the world. They announce the end of the world in order to urge people to prepare. “The End is coming” they say, and use this as a means to spread religion. At the time of the second millenium they used this point in preaching, using people's fear of death or pessimism about society to urge people to turn to Christ.

At the beginning of 1990, I received a letter from a seminarian in China. He said that his mother who had been a fervent Catholic, for some unknown reason came to believe in one of the Fundamentalist groups. Some group members insisted that the end of the world would come soon. They persuaded her to donate the family buffalo and farm equipment to the church, then ‘wait for Christ's coming’.

At Jesus' Ascension, the disciples also asked Jesus to tell them about the end of the world. But Jesus did not give in to their curiosity. He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.(Acts 1:7)

Jesus admitted that he himself did not know the hour:But about that hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Mk 13:32) It is indeed foolish to publicly prophesy something about which even the angels in heaven and the Son are uncertain.

Once someone asked Confucius whether the dead had consciousness or not. Confucius replied: “If I say the dead 'have consciousness' I am afraid that some people would pay more attention to the dead and neglect the living. If I say the dead 'do not have consciousness' I am afraid some people would not bury their dead parents but leave them lying in the wilderness. So, no matter what reply I give you, it would not do you any good. In fact, if you want to know whether the dead have consciousness or not, wait until you are dead and you will know. Why bother asking such a question now?”(3)

Confucius is the Master Sage who knows 'The right attitude towards Life'. He seldom talked about a future life, or something of which he was not certain or had no experience. If he mentioned the future it was to enable people to live the present life to the full.

Jesus did the same. He preferred to put himself into God's hands without questioning. He accepted the limitation of being human, of living out the mystery of the Incarnation, of being fully the “Word made Flesh.” Why then do we waste time in worrying or trying to predict the exact time of the end of the world if Jesus himself didn't want to know?
Today's reading tells us that Jesus for certain will come again, but we do not know the exact time. Therefore we must prepare well throughout our entire life, never neglecting to live as well as we can. We live in the shadow of the future, facing the uncertainty of life. But this is exactly the challenge and joy of being human.

What does it matter 'when that time will come' if we do our best to love God and other people, do both big and small deeds well, are faithful servants, lead lives of piety, daily fulfill what God asks of us, leave no debt unpaid or offense unforgiven? What matters it then when the Lord comes? Would we really live differently

If we thought his coming would be later?

He will come back, 'whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning'. Therefore, if we are always prepared, we will welcome him with a joyous heart whenever he comes. For that will be the time for us to return to our Father's house and receive the reward of eternal life.


(1) 知不知中過一生
(2) 中國文化:死人有知抑無知也?
(3) 曾經有人詢問孔子有關死人有沒有知覺的問題。孔子回答說:「如果我說死人『有知覺』,我就害怕有些人會『妨生而送死』。如果我說死人『無知覺』,我又擔心有些人不去埋葬去世的父母,使他們暴骨荒野。所以我無論怎麼回答,對你們都沒有什麼好處。其實如果你們要知道死人有無知覺,等你們死時就會知道了,何必現在就問這問題呢?」

 

 

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徐錦堯@fr.luketsui.idv.hk 2020