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Publish Date: 17 February 2021
 

The House of Bishops Lenten Message 2021

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: 

Since late 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous changes to the world. 

Over the past year, because of the spread of the pandemic, we have realized how fragile the world really is. Health and human lives, the social economy, and effective systems were all unable to withstand the impact of the virus. This current situation is comparable to the “Black Death” that started in the 1330s. That plague caused between seventy-five and two hundred million deaths, a number that exceeded a quarter of the population in Eurasia. People then also felt quite helpless in the face of the disease. Nobody believed that a tiny flea could cause more devastation than a well-prepared army. 

In fact, similar situations occur once every few years. Large scale pandemics that broke out in the past two decades include: SARS in 2003, the Avian Flu in 2005, the Swine Flu in 2009, Ebola in 2014, and the most recent COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some time ago, it was predicted that humanity would ascend from “homo sapiens” to “homo deus” with powers similar to God. As biotechnology and artificial intelligence advanced by leaps and bounds, human beings would become godlike creatures with super intelligence. However, even as humanity attained godlike powers with control over life and death, we were abusive of our powers, irresponsible, and greedy. When the corrupt nature of humanity is pushed to its extreme by our boundless desires, we will be defeated by the artificial intelligence and biotechnology of our own making and end up on the path of self-destruction. This is not the plot of a science fiction film but a realistic fate of modern humanity. 

What does humanity truly want? What do we truly need? 

The progress of humanity is originally a good thing. Starting from the Renaissance period in the 14th century, human beings have continued to make epochal progress in science, economics, art, and culture. People’s daily lives have improved because of these developments. However, two cruel and devastating world wars broke out in the 20th century as all countries entered the era of modernization, creating immense calamities which nobody could have foreseen. We might well ask why are humans, who accumulate increasing knowledge unable to solve these conflicts? The answer is that while we devote ourselves to the advance of science, industry, economy, and even our cultures, we care not for the problems of sin within ourselves. 

Jesus had warned the people in his lifetime that the world would be filled with war, earthquake, famine, and disease; the righteous would be persecuted and friendships as well as familial affection would mutate, leading to distrust, betrayal, and attack. These are all things that people are feeling at this moment, especially the people of Hong Kong. 

The COVID-19 virus is still threatening the world because of new mutant strains; the world economy remains in lockdown, and political systems are shaken. The people of Hong Kong are experiencing a shock never seen before. All our hearts suffer greatly. In these trials, we discover how easily our faith is swayed by the environment in which we live; how little we know of the truth; and how difficult it is for us to listen, to forgive, and to reconcile! We are so susceptible to prejudices and anger. 

Lent is a season that reminds us to return to God. Starting on Ash Wednesday and extending through Holy Week, all the liturgies we experience and all the scriptural lessons we hear open our eyes to the fragility and corruption of humanity. They enable us to recognize our pride, our greed, and our cunning and the fact that we often give in to temptation. In this way, we can better understand our need for Christ to transform our lives and to deliver us from evil. 

This year, the clergy of our church is preparing an online daily Bible reading programme “The Daily Word” starting on Ash Wednesday. Let us renew ourselves through the Holy Word of God and thereby receive God’s light and new hope. We hope that our daily sharing in our new programme can gradually transform our hearts. We firmly believe that when our hearts are transformed, the world will enjoy stability, prosperity, peace, and justice. 

It is said that “the fate of humanity is history, and also a story”. Where will Hong Kong and Macau go from here? Where will the world end up in? Prosperity results in decline, and out of the worst misfortune comes good fortune. Life is transformed little by little, but it is never completely within our control; but we believe that in Christ crises are opportunities. Christ was persecuted, he died, was buried, and he descended to hell, but we must not forget that he was also resurrected and ascended to heaven to be seated on the right hand of the almighty God. 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us walk the way of the suffering of Christ in this Season of Lent and stride toward the resurrection, changing crisis into opportunity with our faith.

 

+Andrew Chan +Timothy Kwok + Matthias Der


 

 

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