常年21:窄門 2022年08月21日


常年期第廿一主日

心繫天上真福,力走生命窄門

讀經一:(依66:18-21):外邦人要朝拜天主
讀經二:(希12:5-7,11-13):天主為人的好處而管教他
福 音:(路13:22-30):得救之門
中國文化:死人有知,抑無知也?氣節之士,其死也,所以酬國家文化之恩澤,而無愧於讀聖賢書,所學何事之問。

「主啊,得救的人真的不多嗎?」耶穌對他們說:「你們應該勉力從窄門進去!我告訴你們:將來有許多人想進去,卻不能進去。當戶主起來關上門後,你們將站在外面,敲門說:『主啊,請給我們開門吧!』他將回答你們說:『我不知道你們是從哪裡來的。』那時,你們會說:『我們同你一起吃喝過,你也曾在我們的街頭施教。』他會說:『我告訴你們:我不知道你們是從哪裡來的。』」
(路13:23-27)

「得救的人真的不多嗎?」耶穌對這問題的答案,似乎是答非所問,因為這不是一個耶穌願意我們關注的問題。

每一種學問,都有自己範圍內的問題;超出了這個範圍,就是所謂的「錯誤的問題」(a wrong question),即是問錯了問題。我們不能在音樂的範圍內問繪畫的問題,不能在詩歌中問科學的問題。這是很顯淺的道理。

聖經是一本獨一無二、無可歸類的書,它要回答的問題也是獨一無二的。聖經問的只是生命的問題,尤其是跟我的生命和得救直接有關的問題。聖經不是科學書、不是倫理書、不是哲學書,聖經就是聖經,你只能問聖經中獨有的問題,即那些和我們每人有切身關係的生命問題。你不能在聖經中去找科學的、哲學的答案。

聖經是此時、此地,天主向我說的話。它不是理論,不重思辨,也並不抽象。它甚至也不是一部勸世文,雖然它也有很強的勸世意味。

「得救的人多不多?」對聖經來說,這是一個「錯誤的問題」,所以耶穌沒有回答。而且耶穌也知道,即使他回答了,對我們也沒有好處,甚至還有壞處。例如,如果耶穌說「得救的人很多」,就會使我們傾向於生活得放任而隨便;如果耶穌說「得救的很少」,我們就會灰心喪志,甚至消沉、失望。所以耶穌不直接回答這個「得救的人數究竟多不多」的問題。因為這真是一個對我們有害無益的問題!

孔子回答問題的態度和耶穌也有點近似。有一次,有人問孔子:「死人有知,抑無知也?」他們要問的是:死去的人有沒有知覺?孔子說:「如果我告訴你『死人有知覺』,我便怕那些所謂孝子賢孫會『妨生而送死』;如果我告訴你『死人無知覺』,我又怕那些不肖子孫,不去埋葬自己的親人,讓他們暴骨荒山。所以無論我怎麼回答,對你都是有害而無益的。不過,假如你真的想知道死人有沒有知覺,等你死時便可以知道了,何必那麼早便問這個問題呢?」

「死去的人究竟有沒有知覺?」這也是一個有害無益的、不該問的問題,所以孔子也不直接回答。

但得救到底是和我們每個人都有極重要關係的,所以耶穌還是給了一個和我們每個人都有直接關係的答案:「你們應該從窄門進去!

真正和我們有關係的問題是:我能否得救?我要走什麼路,活一個什麼樣的生活,才能得救?答案很簡單,也很直接:我們每人都可以得救,因為天主創造我們,原是為了讓我們分享他的真福生命,因為「他願意所有人都得救」(弟前2:4)。條件是:「走窄門」。
「窄門」就是天主要我們進的門、要我們走的路。那未必是我們歡喜走的路,所以那是窄門。

大多數人喜歡走「寬門大路」(瑪7:13),但那是導向喪亡之路。習慣活在一個放任、享樂主義社會中的人,浸淫在聲色犬馬逸樂中的人,更希望能毫不費勁地,就能獲得救恩、升天享福。

也有些人不願意走耶穌的窄門,卻自詡曾經和耶穌一起吃過喝過,並以耶穌曾經在他們的街頭施過教為傲,以為這樣就一定可以近水樓台、先得救恩。這種靠攀關係的信仰,也是「寬門大路」的一種。

世上的偉人,走的都是窄門;他們走的,都是大多數人不喜歡走的路。唐君毅在論中國的氣節之士時就說過:「氣節之士,其死也,所以酬國家文化之恩澤,而無愧於讀聖賢書,所學何事之問。」讀了聖賢書,有了學問,就應按學問的理想去生活,即使要為此而死亦不足惜。這也是窄門的一種。

天主原是生命和幸福的泉源,如果我們能走天主要我們走的路,那個「窄門」才是真正的、最光明的康莊大道!

常年期第廿一主日

心系天上真福,力走生命窄门

读经一:(依66:18-21):外邦人要朝拜天主
读经二:(希12:5-7,11-13):天主为人的好处而管教他
福 音:(路13:22-30):得救之门
中国文化:死人有知,抑无知也?气节之士,其死也,所以酬国家文化之恩泽,而无愧於读圣贤书,所学何事之問。

「主啊,得救的人真的不多吗?」耶稣对他们说:「你们应該勉力从窄门进去!我告诉你们:将来有许多人想进去,却不能进去。当户主起来关上门后,你们将站在外面,敲门说:『主啊,请给我们開门吧!』他将回答你们说:『我不知道你们是从哪里来的。』那時,你们会说:『我们同你一起吃喝過,你也曾在我们的街头施教。』他会说:『我告诉你们:我不知道你们是从哪里来的。』」
(路13:23-27)

「得救的人真的不多吗?」耶稣对这問题的答案,似乎是答非所問,因为这不是一個耶稣願意我们关注的問题。

每一种学問,都有自己范围内的問题;超出了这個范围,就是所谓的「错误的問题」(a wrong question),即是問错了問题。我们不能在音乐的范围内問绘画的問题,不能在诗歌中問科学的問题。这是很显浅的道理。

圣经是一本独一无二、无可归类的书,它要回答的問题也是独一无二的。圣经問的只是生命的問题,尤其是跟我的生命和得救直接有关的問题。圣经不是科学书、不是伦理书、不是哲学书,圣经就是圣经,你只能問圣经中独有的問题,即那些和我们每人有切身关系的生命問题。你不能在圣经中去找科学的、哲学的答案。

圣经是此時、此地,天主向我说的话。它不是理论,不重思辨,也并不抽象。它甚至也不是一部劝世文,虽然它也有很强的劝世意味。

「得救的人多不多?」对圣经来说,这是一個「错误的問题」,所以耶稣没有回答。而且耶稣也知道,即使他回答了,对我们也没有好处,甚至还有坏处。例如,如果耶稣说「得救的人很多」,就会使我们倾向於生活得放任而随便;如果耶稣说「得救的很少」,我们就会灰心丧志,甚至消沉、失望。所以耶稣不直接回答这個「得救的人数究竟多不多」的問题。因为这真是一個对我们有害无益的問题!

孔子回答問题的态度和耶稣也有点近似。有一次,有人問孔子:「死人有知,抑无知也?」他们要問的是:死去的人有没有知觉?孔子说:「如果我告诉你『死人有知觉』,我便怕那些所谓孝子贤孫会『妨生而送死』;如果我告诉你『死人无知觉』,我又怕那些不肖子孫,不去埋葬自己的亲人,让他们暴骨荒山。所以无论我怎么回答,对你都是有害而无益的。不過,假如你真的想知道死人有没有知觉,等你死時便可以知道了,何必那么早便問这個問题呢?」

「死去的人究竟有没有知觉?」这也是一個有害无益的、不該問的問题,所以孔子也不直接回答。

但得救到底是和我们每個人都有极重要关系的,所以耶稣还是给了一個和我们每個人都有直接关系的答案:「你们应該从窄门进去!

真正和我们有关系的問题是:我能否得救?我要走什么路,活一個什么样的生活,才能得救?答案很简单,也很直接:我们每人都可以得救,因为天主创造我们,原是为了让我们分享他的真福生命,因为「他願意所有人都得救」(弟前2:4)。条件是:「走窄门」。
「窄门」就是天主要我们进的门、要我们走的路。那未必是我们欢喜走的路,所以那是窄门。

大多数人喜欢走「宽门大路」(玛7:13),但那是导向丧亡之路。习惯活在一個放任、享乐主义社会中的人,浸淫在声色犬马逸乐中的人,更希望能毫不费勁地,就能获得救恩、升天享福。

也有些人不願意走耶稣的窄门,却自诩曾经和耶稣一起吃過喝過,并以耶稣曾经在他们的街头施過教为傲,以为这样就一定可以近水楼台、先得救恩。这种靠攀关系的信仰,也是「宽门大路」的一种。

世上的伟人,走的都是窄门;他们走的,都是大多数人不喜欢走的路。唐君毅在论中国的气节之士時就说過:「气节之士,其死也,所以酬国家文化之恩泽,而无愧於读圣贤书,所学何事之問。」读了圣贤书,有了学問,就应按学問的理想去生活,即使要为此而死亦不足惜。这也是窄门的一种。

天主原是生命和幸福的泉源,如果我们能走天主要我们走的路,那個「窄门」才是真正的、最光明的康庄大道!

TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

The Heart Longs for Heaven's Blessings. Strive to Enter by the Narrow Door

First Reading (Is 66: 18-21): The Gentiles wanted to worship God
Second Reading (Heb 12: 5-7, 11-13): God disciplines us for our own good
Gospel (Lk 13: 22-30): The door to salvation

Chinese classics:
-“Do the dead have feelings, or do they not?” (1)
-“For men of moral integrity, when they died they repaid the bounty they received from their country's culture. They did justice to the teaching in the books of the sages and all that they had learned.” (2)

“Lord, will only a few be saved? He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ “ (Lk 13: 23-27)

‘Lord will only a few be saved?’ It seems that Jesus did not answer the question directly. It was not a topic about which Jesus wanted us to be concerned.

All areas of knowledge have questions specific to that area. Questions outside that area are so-called “wrong questions,” that is, they raise a wrong query. We cannot ask a question about drawing when the topic is music, or when talking about poetry, raise questions about science. This is a simple enough maxim.

The Bible is a book that does not fit any category. The questions it raises are likewise unique. Scripture asks only questions about life, especially questions related to the life of human beings and even more directly, to our salvation. The Bible is not a book of science, or ethics or philosophy. It is the Bible and one can only raise questions pertaining to the Bible, that is, those directly related to the life of each one of us. One cannot find there answers about science or philosophy.

The Bible is God speaking to us here and now. It is neither theoretical, nor analytical nor abstract. It is not even a book of moral exhortations though at times there is a strong sense of this.

“Will only a few people be saved?” As far as the Bible goes, it was the wrong question to ask, so Jesus did not answer it. Jesus knew too that answering it would do us no good, perhaps it would even be harmful. For example, if he answered that many would be saved, it might cause us to relax and become careless. If he answered that only a few persons would be saved, we might become discouraged, dispirited, even hopeless or despairing. Therefore, Jesus would not answer any questions about few or many people attaining salvation. It was a question that could do us more harm than good.

When answering questions Confucius' attitude was similar to that of Jesus. Once someone asked Confucius, “Do the dead have feelings, or do they not?” (1) They wanted to know whether the dead were still able to feel. Confucius replied, 'If I told you 'the dead do have feelings,' I am afraid those so-called obedient sons and grandsons would 'organize elaborate burial rites as if the dead were still alive.' If I tell you that 'the dead do have feelings,' I am afraid wicked sons and grandsons would not bury their dead parents, and would leave their bodies in the wilderness. Therefore, no matter what I say, it will do more harm than good. However, if you really want to know whether the dead have feelings or not, wait until you are dead and then you will know. Are you not asking this question too early?”

“Do the dead have feelings?” It is the same kind of question, doing more harm than good. It is a question that should not have been asked, therefore Confucius would not answer it directly.

But after all, salvation is an extremely important question for each of us. So Jesus still gave an answer that relates directly to each one of us: “Strive to enter through the narrow door.

The real question for each of us is: “Can I be saved? What path should I take and how must I live in order to be saved?” The answer is simple and direct: Each one of us can be saved because God has created us all to share his blessed life and because “he desires everyone to be saved. (1 Tim 2:4) The condition is “to enter through the narrow door.”

The “narrow door” is the door that God wishes us to enter, the path that God wants us to follow. That may not be the path we would like to take which is why it is a narrow door.

Most people like to enter through 'a wide gate and an easy road' (Mt 7:13) but that road leads to destruction. There are people who habitually lead a life of ease and pleasure, even prolonged dissolution, and still hope to attain salvation and reach heaven without any effort on their part.

There are others who are unwilling to enter the narrow door of Jesus but boast that they have eaten and drunk with Jesus and that Jesus was happy to teach in their streets. They are too sure or over-confident of their salvation just because they claim to believe in Jesus. That kind of belief is also a kind of “wide door and broad road.”

The great people of this world all go through a narrow door. The road they travel is not one the majority of people like to follow. Commenting on people of moral integrity in China, Tang Jun Yi said, “For men of moral integrity, when they died they repaid the bounty they received from their country’s culture. They did justice to the teaching in the books of the sages and all that they had learned.” (2) After one has read the books of the Chinese sages and gained knowledge, then one must live in accordance with the ideals of that knowledge, even at the cost of death. This is a kind of “narrow door”.

God is the source of life and happiness. If we are able to take the path God wants us take, then only the 'narrow door' is the true one, the brightest and safest highway!

(1)死人有知,抑無知也?
(2)氣節之士,其死也,所以酬國家文化之恩澤,而無愧於讀聖賢書,所學何事之問。

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徐錦堯@fr.luketsui.idv.hk 2021