Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Christmas is approaching. As we contemplate the beautiful scene of the Holy Family, immersed in peace and serenity, with the Infant Jesus in a manger, we cannot but recall the many events that, in sharp contrast, have taken place in Hong Kong, our home, over the past several years.
Our hearts have grown uneasy. Peace seems to be getting more and more remote from us. We have had experiences of disputes, conflicts, people being torn-apart and the core values, such as family, which form the basis of society, being challenged.
While it is true that God has never promised us that the sky will always be blue, He has assured us that His love will remain always with us.
Christmas brings us an important message. Jesus Christ chose to come into our world, to be with us, by being born into a family, with Joseph as father and Mary as mother. As the Incarnate Son of God, he stayed with His family for 30 years (cf. 2015 Final Synodal Report, 41).
From this we can see how important the family is in God’s plan of salvation. The family is important, not just by reason of our faith, but also by reason of its being a constitutive part of society. Without the family, our society would not have come into being.
Thus we must cherish the family and guard against any hazards which may harm it. Likewise, we must be concerned about social issues that affect the family, such as the Standard Working Hours and the Universal Retirement Scheme.
It is our sincere expectation that if the related policies were implemented it would help ameliorate the stressful condition of today’s families and protect their core values and rights.
The Church has just inaugurated the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. Pope Francis has asked us to contemplate the face of Christ, to be witnesses to mercy and to enable others to experience the great Mystery of God’s Mercy.
Let us begin our witness to mercy at home: let us care for our own families, our parents, grandparents, children and neighbours.
We should try to enhance human relationships by meeting one another, greeting and talking with one another with a smile, instead of just sending text messages via mobile phones or social media (cf. Pope Francis’ Wednesday Catechesis, 11 November 2015).
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, closely united as the Holy Family, are a reminder for us that we should treasure the time we share with our family, especially during the Christmas season.
With our whole family, let us pray together, go to Church and attend Mass together, and make pilgrimages to the churches designated for obtaining the Jubilee indulgences. Let our whole family contemplate the face of Christ and let the face of Christ shine forth in our family life.
Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, Queen of Families, may the peace of Our Lord be with you and with your families at Christmas and throughout the Year.
+ John Cardinal TONG
Bishop of Hong Kong