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Performing works of mercy

As Christians, we have experienced the Lord’s conversion power and the Passover joy brought by him. From this, we are able to return love with love and serve and devote ourselves to the Church and society.
 
On Ash Wednesday the mark of the cross of ashes on our foreheads reminds us that we will return to dust one day and that this world is not our ultimate destination. In this earthly journey, what we focus on is how much we have loved and whether we see the Jesus in the weakest. 
 
Since we are here in Hong Kong, we are inevitably connected to others who live here. This city now has the dubious distinction of having the highest Gini coefficient in 45 years at 0.539; the gap between the haves and have-nots has only become worse, with the top 10 per cent having a household income over 40 per cent higher than the bottom 10 per cent. Families have lost their dignity they struggle to make ends meet. How can we show solidarity and concern? 
 
One of out of every five people in Hong Kong lives below the poverty line. They might be mothers who cannot afford to pay for the textbooks and other fees for their children, elderly who worry about insufficient pensions and stay at home all the time, underemployed low-income people who save money by sleeping inside 24-hour restaurants for years on end, or ethnic minorities who face employment discrimination.
 
In showing the love of God through works of mercy, the gospel of Luke recounts that when the crowd asked Jesus what then they should do. Jesus replied, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” 
When we open our hearts and generously love for love, we see God’s face in the faces of the disadvantaged. 
 
Those who have wealth understand that they are simply administrators and that giving alms to the needy is repaying the debts to the needy. Those who are decision-makers at the top of the government understand that all capabilities and status come from God and they should formulate policies based on the principle of solidarity and care. 
 
Employers can share of the bounty they have by paying a living wage, creating more job opportunities and ensuring humane working conditions. Parish priests and leaders should be more willing to open parish compounds for the poor in the community to meet and receive support. Those with knowledge and networking can coordinate with others of good will, to adopt new perspectives and means “to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted.” Changing the social structures, which lead to poverty and eliminating structural sin, will be to the benefit of the common good. 
 
Some may say that these over-idealistic and impractical. However, Pope Benedict XVI states in, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), “… charity has been and continues to be misconstrued, … with the consequent risk of being misinterpreted, detached from ethical living … In the social, juridical, cultural, political, and economic fields – the contexts, …, that are most exposed to this danger ….”
 
Christians are called to use their talents and treasure to nurture greater fraternal love culturally, socially and economically. Sacrifice allows us to share what we have with the less fortunate.
 
The Lenten journey is a call to inner conversion. We need to leave our comfort zones. When we have two cloaks, we feel the tension when asked to share one. This is not only a must for resurrection but also a gospel invitation. SE