CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 April 2019

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The light of peace at Epiphany

This Sunday is the Feast of Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus as Son of God and Saviour of the World. This true light saves humankind, drives out darkness and becomes the light of all peoples.
 
However, recent years have seen dark clouds hovering over Hong Kong with the city losing its lustre. Repeated interpretations of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress have directly struck at the principle of One Country, Two Systems, and infringed on the judiciary’s power of final adjudication. The disqualifications of Legco members and candidates in recent years have also deepened public unease.
 
A number of student leaders were sentenced to jail (their appeal was allowed after they had served their sentences for a period of time) for taking part in social action, while recently, a number of social advocates have been on trial for allegedly inciting others to cause public nuisance during the Umbrella Movement. Public opinion is worried that civil liberties are being further constricted.
 
Rocketing housing prices have made the livelihood of the low-income groups more difficult. When social resources are limited and the gap between the rich and the poor keeps increasing, there is a growing tendency for refugees and newly arrived immigrants to be labelled as people who rob Hong Kong of its resources. Citizens vent their discontent through confrontation, rather than addressing the system, which is the real cause of injustice.
 
Pope Francis declared in his message for World Day of Peace, marked on the New Year’s Day that as “Good Politics is at the service of peace.” The Holy See Press Office statement said that his message stresses, “Political responsibility belongs to every citizen and, in particular, to those who have been given the mandate to protect and govern” (see front page). This reminds Christians that they should be the agents of peace and help those who need to be protected, such as refugees and the vulnerable.
 
The message pointed out that there is no peace in society without dialogue, mutual trust and political commitment.
 
Hong Kong must step out of the shadows. The idea of “resigning oneself to oppression” may bring temporary calm, but the relatively healthy system, which the city has established over the years, will continue to slowly collapse. In view of social divisions, Christians need to go against the current to attain peace, sow the seeds of sympathy and love, and be committed to nurture a system of justice to enable light to drive out darkness.
 
Justce, peace and mercy are always complementary because upholding a system requires not only the bravery of a prophet but also friendship jointly built with God.
 
It is said that the vitality of Hong Kong has been drained since the Umbrella Movement, while democratic development remains stagnant. Some people have cast doubt on the movement and have cold shouldered the court trial of the advocates. However, at this bottleneck of development, society must re-examine the slogan: “forget not the original intention.” 
 
In the beginning, citizens advocated upholding Hong Kong’s core values and system in a peaceful way. Today, these are being increasingly eroded. It is necessary to identify the current polarisation so as to be able to protect social values with charity and truth, and to enable those who are oppressed and live in poverty to regain their dignity, and to enable politics to be at the service of peace again.
 
The Feast of Epiphany reminds us that Christ is the light of all peoples. Under this light, Christians need to respond to God’s invitation by making peace with justice and mercy. “In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more” (Psalm 72:7). SE