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The Epiphany in troubled times

“Where is the newborn king?” If someone asked you this question today, what would you feel and what would your reply be? Excited, overwhelmed, or something else? Would you tap out a message on your smartphone and share this message immediately over social media to gauge the reaction of your friends?
 
According to the gospel this Sunday (Matthew 2:1-12), Herod, the king, feared that the infant king, whom the wise men from the east came looking for, would be a threat to his power, so he asked them to let him know when they found the baby. 
 
But being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the wise men went home by another way. With the failure of his plot, the king ordered the killing of  “all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” It was definitely a time of horror.
 
Two thousand years have passed and we now live in a so-called civilised society, but a large number of people still live under the conditions of terror. Some may recall the massacre of ethnic minorities in Iraq by members of the so-called Islamic State militant group and the brutal executions that were carried out. 
 
Others may think of the refugees in Syria or elsewhere. Or, some may remember the abducted Christian missionaries.
 
With all the conflict in different parts of the world, Hong Kong has also been facing its own series of troubling issues. A number of legislative councillors, who won their seats by direct election in 2016 and who had the mandate of tens of thousands of people, were disqualified from office after the government in Beijing stepped in to re-interpret the Basic Law regarding the manner oath-taking by councillors.
 
The recent case of the co-location arrangement for the joint checkpoint of the cross-border Express Rail Link has also been slammed as having irreparably breached the integrity of the Basic Law and undermined public confidence in the rule of law and the principle of One country, two systems. 
 
These issues have stirred up negative sentiment in the city. People want the promise of a high degree of autonomy to be honoured. They also want government policies to respect basic human rights and to promote democracy.
 
In today’s gospel, as the wise men meet the infant Jesus, they offer gifts to him—God incarnate as a human who “rescues the poor when they cry out, the oppressed who have no one to help… shows pity to the needy and the poor and saves the lives of the poor” (Psalm 72:12-13).
 
Let us, in the darkness before the dawn, in exercising our civic duty to promote a just and caring society, keep our focus on our saviour.
 
This is the real meaning of Epiphany. SE