Monthly Archives: June 2012

Free Will

Lately, the theme of “free will” occurred to me quite a bit.

I went to Treasures of the Church relics exposition twice. The priest gave the exact same talk, but I still had tears in my eyes the second time I listened to him telling the story of St. Maria Goretti. The priest emphasized that she did not have to forgive the man who tried to violate her. No one would blame her if she chose not to forgive. Her choice to forgive her offender gave the story a surprising happy ending that nobody could have predicted. All that was made possible only because she CHOSE to be a saint.

We don’t tend to think much about our gift of free will. Study indicates that only 43% of all that we do are the result of conscious choices, the rest we just do out of habits. What a waste?! We would worry about what if one day we lose our intellectual ability (say if we get Alzeimer’s). But when we actually have the ability to make conscious decisions, we just let our habits (or impulse) dominate.

When atheists talk about how Christianity doesn’t make sense, one common point they tend to bring up is how unreasonable it is for God to have Adam and Eve decide whether to be obedient or not. God told them that they were free to consume fruits from any tree in the Garden of Eden, except those from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why would an omnipotent God subject ignorant humans to this kind of choice? If it’s such big a deal, why didn’t God prevent “the fall” altogether?

The answer is that nothing else matters unless we have free will. God could have created us without free will, and we would just roam around and “do good” because we wouldn’t be able to choose anything else. A “yes” is only meaningful when we are presented with the opportunity to choose “no”. If all these make sense, it just follows that we have to be responsible for what we’ve chosen?

The one thing that triggered me to write this post is actually this man’s story. When one is homosexual and Christian at the same time, what is “the sane thing” to do? In case you are not clear about it, Christianity DOES NOT regard homosexuals as sinners. Having a same-sex attraction is NOT a sin, it’s the homosexual act that the faith regards as problematic. A homosexual can be a Christian in good standing so long as he/she does not engage in the act. This obviously sounds crazy to mainstream homosexuals. How could one be healthy and genuinely happy this way? Please read Josh Weed and Lolly Shea’s story, it’s the most beautiful love story I’ve encountered.

We will always face with choices, big or small. Some choices will lead to more blessings than others, will we sacrifice the apparent benefits to pursue the path that would ultimately lead to a better good?

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「義」字新解

「義」字新解           關傑棠神父

去元朗堂區講避靜,午飯時跟一位叔父閒談,他說:「神父,你知道嗎?中國人講的『義』字跟天主教的道理很配合。『義』字由羊由我組成,意即我是羊。羊一向給人的印象是與世無爭,隨時肯犧牲自己。我們教會指出耶穌乃『除免世罪的天主羔羊』,箇中道理簡直不謀而合。」北方俚語說容易給人家佔便宜的是「羊牯」,與廣東話說「老襯」同義。我們教友通常做事不會斤斤計較,吃虧也不在乎,只希望大家能夠和平共處,快快樂樂。這無他,我們跟隨的師傅穌哥是全人類中最大的「羊牯」,真正「除免世罪的天主羔羊」,祂用自己的血和生命去成全別人。

福音有個大家熟識的故事,披露了主耶穌的終極身份,證明了祂是最有義氣的人。

耶穌出道,三年傳教,可算威風八面,好事做盡。祂用五餅二魚奇蹟飽飫五千群眾;祂一作聲,大自然臣服,風浪平息;祂獨具惠眼,人未提出要求,已經主動關愛,救急扶危,令病人痊癒,死人復活;祂洞悉人心,沙地寫字,嚇跑指控群眾,解罪婦免陷殺身之禍;祂不畏強權,直斥當時教會領導人的不是;祂更為了天父聖殿的神聖莊嚴,激發義怒,揮鞭驅散商販……

以上種種行為模式,都給人一個非常正面的印象。祂既擁有超人神力,又具慈悲心腸,更加是正義之士,根本沒有人可以傷害祂,連動祂一根毛髮也不能。就在這個常理邏輯思維下,貪錢的猶達斯想出一條賺錢「絕橋」。既然猶太人的司祭長、經師和長老有意謀害耶穌,何不將計就計,做個「二五仔」,把師傅交出,換取豐厚酬報——三十塊銀錢。反正耶穌定有能力自行脫身,比今天偉大的魔術師——大衛高柏飛更「勁」!可惜這個如意算盤打錯了,耶穌拒做人民英雄,反而演活了「除免世罪的天主羔羊」角色!

這是我們信仰生活的挑戰和考驗,信一個強而有力、有求必應的神容易;追隨那個死在苦架,雖則有時頗關社,又有正義感,但到頭來仍是要我們無條件寬恕仇人的基督,那難度就太大了。真不明白祂為何有強人不做,倒要做隻「除免世罪的天主羔羊」?喜歡與否,這是信仰現實。你要跟隨基督,唯有與祂一起走那條不歸路、吃虧路,明明給人「搵笨」的「老襯」路。事實上基督清楚告訴我們,要剷除世間的罪惡與仇恨,除了愛和寬恕,別無他途,因為戰爭和暴力只會給人類帶來更大的痛苦。黑道朋友標榜義氣,原來耶穌比他們更前衛。義者,我是羊也!祂改變了我們的思維和命運。