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Change begins with self

The widespread publicity in Hong Kong given to alleged imprudence and corruption by those at the top of the political heap, as well as accusations of irregularities in business conduct, has been the talk of the town in recent weeks.

According to a seven-part behavioural study done by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Toronto in Canada, high-flyers are prone to flunking morality tests when it comes to protecting their interests or seeking financial gain.

As we all know, the rich-poor gap in Hong Kong is widening and is more serious than in other places in the world.

Nevertheless, a significant portion of people in Hong Kong lead a decent life and, in addition, many are able to pursue extravagant lifestyles, Catholics among them.

At the start of Lent, an advertisement was published by local groups appealing to Church people to try and reduce their consumption level and use their resources to support those who are struggling.

Lent is a good time to change our lifestyle habits. In his message at the start of Lent, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, “The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance (and) works of fraternal charity.”

However, the real challenge is to continue caring and responding to the needs of our neighbour when the 40-day period is over.

The Year of the Laity has three objectives, to strive for “personal sanctification and sanctification of others” and “contribute to a better world.”

Resisting temptation is an essential part of the way of the cross, but it is not easy. Pushing through bitterness and suffering to reach the Promised Land requires persistence.

Nevertheless, it is a path that leads to virtue. Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness emphasises the economy demanded in the following of the suffering Christ. He resisted the temptations of the devil by fasting, self-denial and prayer.

We can begin by looking at our own personal habits and changing our attitudes towards consumerism and being tempted into the herd mentality.

There are some 540,000 Catholics in Hong Kong. If each one takes a small step forward, not only can we put resources into supporting those in need, but in addition, witness to a culture that values simple living and caring for those who don’t get much of a cut out of the economic pie.

The pope says, “In a world which demands of Christians a renewed witness of love and fidelity to the Lord, may all of us feel the urgent need to anticipate one another in charity, service and good works” (cf. Hebrews 6:10).

He goes on to say, “The spiritual masters remind us that in the life of faith, those who do not advance inevitably regress. Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation today, as it is as timely as ever to aim for the high standard of ordinary Christian living.

Our aim is to attain “holiness in the most ordinary circumstances of life” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31).

Leading a simple life with joy, being detached from possessions and willingly sharing with others is part of the lifestyle led by Jesus on earth. In expressing our love for God and people, as well as putting God’s teaching into practice, let’s start with ourselves. SE