CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Bishop Yeung speaks at installation Mass

 
Homily of the Most Reverend Michael Yeung at the Eucharistic Celebration on
the Commencement of his Episcopal Ministry as Bishop of Hong Kong

 
Do Not Be Afraid
Arise and Let Us Go Forth From Here!
(cf. Matthew 17:7 and John 14:31)
 
Your Eminences Cardinal Tong and Cardinal Zen
Your Excellency Bishop Lee from Macau
My brother Bishop Ha
Monsignor Javier Herrera Corona
My brother priests and deacons
Members of Religious and Lay Organisations
Distinguished Guests
 
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
 
I thank the Holy Father Pope Francis for entrusting me with the office of the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong in succession to Your Eminence Cardinal Tong.
 
On my own behalf and that of the Diocese, I thank Your Eminences Cardinal Tong and Cardinal Zen for having so selflessly devoted your lives in faithful and fruitful service to the Church.
 
May I also say how deeply I appreciate and share the ecumenical spirit shown by the presence here today of our distinguished guests and friends from other Churches, and I sincerely ask all of you to pray to the Lord our God to have mercy on me, unworthy servant as I am. 
 
The Feast of the Transfiguration is an important Feast which is celebrated not only by Roman Catholics but also by Anglicans, Lutherans, Orthodox and many other Christians.
 
In the Gospel reading, the opening words ‘After six days’ are pointing to the sixth day after Peter has confessed Jesus’ divinity on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27,34).
 
Jesus and the apostles travel south for six days before reaching Mount Tabor, with the Transfiguration occurring during the Feast of Tabernacles (Matthew 16:13).
 
During the Feast, the people live in tents to recall the time of Israel in the desert and to look forward to the age of the Messiah. So when Peter suggests making three tents, he is expressing the fulfilment of the messianic expectation.
 
Pope Benedict points out that “it is only as they go down from the mountain that Peter has to learn once again the messianic age is first and foremost the age of the Cross…”1
 
In short, the way of glory passes through the Cross. As Pope Francis says in his first homily after becoming Pope, “When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross and when we proclaim Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord.
 
“We are worldly. We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, all of this, but we are not disciples of the Lord.”2
 
 
So I ask myself as a Pastor:
‘How can I truly be a disciple of the Lord?’ 
 
 
I must listen to the Father’s voice as heard at the Transfiguration and have the faith that drives out fear, taking courage from what Jesus says: ‘Rise, do not be afraid’ (Matthew 17:7). I link those words to what He says after the Last Supper which I have adopted as my episcopal motto: ‘Arise, let us go forth from here!’ (John 14:31).
 
St. Matthew tells us that upon hearing the voice from Heaven, Peter, James and John were ‘very afraid’, but that ‘Jesus came and touched them’ (Matthew 17:7).
 
This is the saving touch of the Word made flesh. In the words of St. John’s Gospel, He has ‘pitched his tent among us’ (John 1:14).
 
He continues to accompany us with compassion, giving Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist and sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in the tabernacles of our hearts.
 
 
The watchword for pastoral action is therefore accompaniment—compassionate accompaniment
 
 
I must therefore walk with the Lord, take up the Cross and accompany with love those in need, staying especially close to the poor and the sick, the lonely and the elderly, the disenfranchised and the marginalised, The Last, the Least and the Lost.
 
Pastors must be so close to their flock that, in the words of Pope Francis, they become ‘shepherds with the smell of sheep’.3
 
 
Allow me, then, to share with you just a few thoughts regarding some pastoral priorities
 
 
There is an insidious form of poverty called relational poverty which has rapidly spread and is often, but not necessarily linked with other forms of poverty—spiritual, physical, material, economic or intellectual.
 
Relational poverty consists not simply in a lack of resources, but in a lack of recourse to relational support and love and in the pain, loneliness, hopelessness and sense of alienation that are often associated with a lack of or a breakdown in loving or meaningful relationships.
 
 
Relationships are at the heart of everything4
 
 
They include our relationships with God, with one another and with all of Nature. Indeed the Chinese term for ethics (倫理) means the principles of relationships.
 
They impact on human ecology as well as the body politics and the unity or harmony of ‘Heaven, Earth and Man’. If good or meaningful relationships are lacking or break down, all sorts of problems abound.
 
 
The pastoral priorities of the Diocese include ministry in the healing of relationships, particularly with regard to problems affecting families, the broken and the wounded.
 
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia), challenges pastors to start with people, in their present realities, and to go forth from there, accompanying them step by step, with discernment and compassion, towards the fullness of life and helping them to experience the merciful love and tender healing touch of the Lord.
 
The Exhortation forms part of the Diocese’s continuing catechesis in Catholic Social Teaching on such topics as human life and dignity, marriage and family, human rights and civic responsibilities (including the rights of the child, the disabled and the aged) and human ecology.5 
 
The Gospel of the Family must be both faithfully proclaimed and truly lived.
 
So when we speak of tabernacles, let us also remember the people who still live in tiny cubicles, often no bigger than a coffin, or even worse conditions in Hong Kong.
They include many elderly people in this rapidly-ageing city.6 
 
Their relational health is of particular concern. They need, apart from practical help, that gentle loving touch from caregivers, especially family members.
 
Alas, many caregivers, such as spouses, are themselves elderly and lack relational and other support.
 
I therefore welcome the news that the Government will be considering various initiatives to provide, among other things, more flexible home care and day care centre services, including “elderly sitter services” to allow more elderly people to age in place.7
 
At the same time I have observed from real examples in my pastoral experience that many of the elderly, despite their age, are still physically fit, energetic and active, are eager to receive recognition as still being needed and are willing to share their invaluable experience, including any relevant expertise they may have with the younger generation.
 
It would be ideal if we could encourage and provide platforms for them to do so. The digital—Facebook, Twitter, Skype—is no substitute for personal contact and sharing in human companionship.
 
 
As regards young people in Hong Kong
 
 
The Diocese has been intensifying its Youth programmes and has already started to involve them in preparing for the Synod gathering next October in Rome on the theme: Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.
 
But much more is required, including engaging them in heart-to-heart dialogues and face-to-face encounters, not restricted to Catholics.
 
 
‘Lord, give me a listening heart’ (1 Kings 3:9)
 
 
Without discernment, one cannot really get to and help tackle the root causes of the frustrations, discontent, helplessness, distrust of authority and even anger experienced by many of our young people, or other problems which are often not of their own making.
 
 
Trust takes time, and sincerity on all sides, to build or rebuild
 
 
The Diocese has from time to time drawn attention to many livelihood and other important issues, including political reform, affecting Hong Kong’s well-being which still need to be addressed.
 
Where necessary it will in appropriate ways continue to call for action, although the Church is not—and sees its role differently from that of—a political party.8
 
It would be a sad day for Hong Kong if it were true to say that people here cared only for economic growth.
 
Hong Kong’s well-being calls for a wide range of values to be fostered, including education and appropriate action, to strive for integral human development.9
 
 
‘Do not be afraid, Arise and let us go forth from here!’
 
 
May the Good Shepherd who gave Peter the mandate to feed His lambs and care for His sheep (John 21:51-18) teach us how to look after the more vulnerable members of the flock first without excluding others from our love and care.
 
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who became the Lord’s living Tabernacle and Ark of the New Covenant10 at the Incarnation, pray for us and accompany us!
 
And may the Peace and Joy of the Risen Lord be with you all!
 

 
 
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1 Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, 315. 
 
2 www.catholicworldreport.com/2013/03/14/full-text-pope-francis
 
3 www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/pope-francis-chrism-mass/2013/03/28/id/496806/
 
4 Everything is interconnected, as explained by Pope Francis in his Encyclical Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015). 
 
5 See, for example, Cardinal John Tong Hon’s Pastoral Letters of 21.9.14 (on “Proclaiming and Living the Gospel of the Family”) and 29.7.15 (“Human Ecology and the Family:  Strengthen Marriage, Not Redefine it !”)   
 
6 Reported available statistics show that in 2016 the number of residents aged 65 and above rose to 16% of the population from 10.3 % in 1997.  It is estimated to reach 24% by 2025: SCMP, 10 July 2017
 
7 SCMP, 10 July 2017.
 
8 See, for example, John Cardinal Tong Hon’s Pastoral Letter of 30.5.2015 on “Electoral Reform and the Well-being of Hong Kong” and previous Pastoral Letters and public statements referred to therein.
 
9 This would also call for family life and civic education, and development of civil society and all other necessary conditions, including the political dimension.
 
10 cf: Luke 1:35, Ex 40:34-5 and Litany of Loreto.
 

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