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Visions for the Year of the Dragon


The Year of the Dragon arrived early this year with the news that Pope Benedict XVI had named Bishop John Tong Hon a cardinal. The appointment affirmed the importance of the role of the Hong Kong diocese as a bridge between the Church in China and the universal Church and should inspire the faithful in Hong Kong to continue to be the salt of the earth and light of the world to their brothers and sisters on the mainland.

In making new wishes during this Lunar New Year spring festival, let us look to the core values of the faith: “The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord” (Luke 4: 18-19). 

These verses express the vision of a fair distribution of resources through active and loving concern for the poor, liberating human hearts through fairness and justice, seeing the beauty and goodness of our conscience as the salt and light of the world, and resolving conflicts through the truth that sets us free. Society must show concern for human dignity, stand for human rights and address the basic necessities of life—clothing, food, shelter, means of travel and livelihood.

We face urgent issues in this new year: resolving the housing problem, helping young people rediscover the meaning of life, understanding that an education which emphasises moral awareness is the basis of a reformed cultural system, as well as cultivating a credible mass media and realising that universal suffrage manifests freedom in truth. 

Recently in China, public opinion suggested that 2012 be named the Year of Morality in the hope of “valuing and strengthening ideology and morality in building a new milestone,” that emphasises the importance of cultivating character and moral uprightness. The editorial in the People’s Daily of 30 December of 2011 pointed out, “We have never been so anxious about social morality as we are today.”

The Year of the Dragon is characterised by extraordinary abilities, sacredness and good fortune. As it represents the sacred virtue of an emperor, each us is expected to nurture the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. From the text, Great Learning, from The Four Books of Confucius, comes the maxim, “from the son of Heaven to common people, everyone should take cultivating themselves as the basis.” Otherwise, a person who is as mighty as a dragon will suffer from degradation with regret, a caution that every one of us should bear in mind.

Confucianism stresses that the king refers to the sacred king in orthodoxy who can provide relief to the people with empathy, enable them to live a happy life in the freedom of truth and in harmonious communion which manifests humanity, righteousness, propriety and wisdom. The sacred king, in the spirit of “priest, prophet and king,” also governs with trust and sincerity, heralds the direction of a harmonious existence for his people and, on their behalf, prays for blessings and good fortune from Heaven. The sacred king also sanctifies himself as well as others through faith, love and hope in converting the world. 

During the Year of the Dragon, people and governments are expected to renew themselves with integrity. Renewal means conversion, reflecting on the past with a view to putting aside selfishness and creating hope. This recalls the spirit of vitality in springtime when everyone lives in faith, love and hope and both society and the state move towards revival. SE