FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Walking in the light

First Reading (2 Chron 36:14-16,19-23): Under God's wrath people were punished but saved through God's mercy
Second Reading (Eph 2:4-10 ): We were dead through sin but saved by God's grace
Gospel ( Jn 3:14-21 ) : Those who walk in Truth also walk in the Light.
Chinese Classics:
- ¡§Chai King Kung refused his subordinates' attempts to please and flatter him¡¨ (1)

¡§For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.¡¨( Jn 3:16-21 )

Jesus came into the world to save the whole world and to bring salvation to all of humankind. It is sad that we human beings not only did not accept him, but rejected him and nailed him to the cross. People in the past treated Jesus in this way; at present people treat him in the same way.

Rejecting Christ not only means that people do not believe him or acknowledge him as Savior. More importantly, aside from whether they believe in him or not, there are always some people who do not wish to walk in his light. They do not want to live in him or live according to God's will. This is because they hate the light.

Before we talk about the above Scripture passage, let us read a story in Li Tze. Chai King Kung was sight-seeing on ¡§Cow Mountain¡¨. When he saw the beautiful mountains and rivers, he became sad and started to cry. He cried because he did not want to die and leave this beautiful scenery behind. Two officials, Sze Hung and Leung Yau Gui, cried with King Kung and tried to please him by saying, ¡§As subordinates our positions are low. Even so, we do not want to die, let alone you, our noble lord, who is king of the country.¡¨ Only On Tze laughed loudly. Chai King Kung chided him and asked him why he laughed. On Tze replied, ¡§If humans could live forever, then the king of Chai should be your dead ancestor or Woon Kung. Would your turn to be king of Chai ever come? Isn't it laughable that you don't even understand such a simple and obvious truth, and besides that, there are two flattering officials who 'spice it up with salt and vinegar (go even further)'¡¨. Listening to this, Chai King Kung was ashamed. He raised his glass of wine to punish himself and also punished the two officials, Sze Hung and Leung Yau Gui.

The world is made up of superiors and kings, and subordinates who busily ¡§pat the horse's hip¡¨(flatter their superiors). Perhaps in ignorance, superiors who are insufficiently alert may continue to live in the ¡§darkness¡¨ of ignorance. Most of those who try to curry favor with their superiors know the truth, and are either afraid or unwilling to walk the path of truth. In John's words in today's Scripture, light had come into the world, but they 'did not come to the light'.

To believe in God and accept Jesus is not that difficult. People who live according to innate human nature already have accepted God and Christ. It is a very natural thing. God is the source of life. We human beings and all of creation come from God. When God created human beings and the universe, all creation was orderly. This sense of orderliness, or the ¡§laws of nature¡¨ were engraved upon our inmost beings and within all of creation.

Christ came to tell us that God desires all men and women to live according to this natural law and treat all creatures with care and kindness. This is how we obey God and let God be Lord of our hearts, ruling our lives and the world. This is the ¡§kingdom of heaven,¡¨ where God reigns and where God's will is done on earth among all of humankind. We need to recognize, understand and accept this natural order within humanity and creation, look at it in the light and freely acknowledge it. Without prejudice or selfishness let us realize this is the truth and act accordingly.

For Christ is that light. He revealed it and spoke of it clearly. He declared to us the truth of human life and gave us the golden rule of happiness. If this revelation conflicts with what is more advantageous to ourselves, we may refuse to accept Truth.

Some examples are Herod Antipas who would not admit he was wrong when he married his sister-in-law; St. Paul who did not consider it wrong to persecute the Christians; the Hong Kong Democratic Party which does not see that it might be questionable to support popular movements against China under Hong Kong's ¡§One Country Two Systems¡¨ political-economic structure; Chinese officials who did not find it too harsh to put political pressure on Hong Kong¡¦s Governor, Chris Patten, at the time of the 1997 turnover; Yuan Mu who saw no problem in announcing that ¡§Not a single person was killed at Tianamen Square¡¨, nor did Chai Ling find it wrong to tell the press that ¡§During the 1989 demonstrations, four thousand people were killed at Tianamen Square¡¨.

What about us? When we are in a heated argument with neighbors, do we admit there might be discrepancies in our reasoning? Throughout history in the many religious disagreements, did not those who promoted reforms often use defensive apologetics and explanations to analyze and defend their own beliefs?

Only if we make use of a model of thinking like the following will we feel we are being truly sincere: ¡§Although I may not be entirely correct, still I think...¡¨ Or, when I really believe the other's reasoning is quite faulty, I might simply say, ¡§Although some of his points are correct, still I think...¡¨

When we sing the hymn ¡§A Light within the World¡¨, let us hope that we can meditate deeply on the meaning of the words, and courageously face the implications for our lives of full and objective Truth.

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