CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A focus on selfishness and pride in Christmas messages


HONNG KONG (SE): Both Bishop John Tong Hon and his counterpart in the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Paul Kwong, were critical of a growing tendency in Hong Kong to amass wealth for personal use at the expense of the common good of the whole of society in their Christmas messages for 2011.

In referring to the biblical story of the birth of Jesus, Bishop Tong quoted the phrase, “There was no room at the inn,” saying that the same story has unfolded in Hong Kong.

In the past year there has been much criticism of the rising price of housing, both for purchase and rent. Both property magnates and the government have been criticised for pursuing policies that amass profit for tycoons and their companies, at the expense of lower income people who cannot afford to pay.

“We hope and pray that our government, wealthy people and business groups, will strive to solve such an urgent problem as housing, which is a basic need and right of every family,” Bishop Tong said.

He also referred to a growing sense of isolation in society, which has been termed a new type of poverty, citing the case of a two-year-old girl who was hit by two trucks in China, but none of the by-standers, nor either of the drivers made a move to help, as being a graphic example.

Archbishop Kwong said that such an attitude runs directly contrary to the message of the birth of Christ in our world. “The purpose of the word becoming flesh is to build a two-fold relationship; the relationship between God and human beings and the relationship among our fellow men,” he said in his message for 2010.

He said this calls for respect among people, irrespective of race, ethnic or racial origin, economic status or religion. “[It] affirms that all human beings are brothers and sisters and so must respect each other, embrace each other, and live harmoniously together,” the archbishop says in his Christmas message.

However, in his message for this year, he noted that this attitude is sadly lacking in our city today, calling the widening gap between rich and poor a sign of an increasing selfishness.

While the two bishops in Hong Kong referred to selfishness, Pope Benedict XVI called it pride, saying that is the basic root of all sin.

At his traditional Urbi et Orbi (to the city and the world) Christmas message, Pope Benedict XVI said that without the help of God, people cannot overcome the problem of evil in the world. “Unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him, come and save us,” we cannot move on, the pope said.

However, he added that we are not without hope. “The very fact that we cry out to heaven in this way already sets us right; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved.”

Pope Benedict used the image of the sick seeking help from a physician, saying that realising this is “the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.”

The bishop of Rome continued, saying that this is what we celebrate at Christmas. “Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition.”

In his greeting, the pope made mention of famine in Africa; displaced persons, especially in south-east Asia; the conflict between Palestine and Israel; bloodshed in Syria; violence in Iraq and Afghanistan; and the situation in the Union of Myanmar and South Sudan.

‘We hope and pray that our government, wealthy people and business groups, will strive to solve such an urgent problem as housing, which is a basic need and right of every family’



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