Hong Kong (Fides) - “To love and to serve is to witness the faith. Social concern and evangelisation are two sides of the same coin” Bishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong writes in a Letter for Lent 2004 addressed to the local Catholics. The letter reflects on service and evangelisation and encourages Catholics to support this year’s Caritas di Hong Kong campaign which is engaged in various humanitarian projects especially to help hungry people in North Korea.
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ - the Bishop writes - Lent is a time for reflection. Let us ask ourselves if we are Christians in fact and not just in name. Do others see the love of Jesus in us? Am I evangelising through service and compassion?”.
Bishop Zen recalls the recommendations of the diocesan Synod which launched a year of evangelisation in 2003: “During the inaugural celebration I said: <Evangelisation springs from the zeal to proclaim to all, ‘I know Jesus and I am so happy!’ >
“Firstly - the Letter continues - when we are happy we are especially generous when the heart is full of joy we are not so preoccupied with gain or loss. Happy people spread joy all around them. When others are happy it is a cause for them to celebrate. Joy increases when it is shared”.
But many people suffer: “This is why - says Bishop Zen - those who live in joy should sacrifice themselves and serve. Suffering decreases when it is shared! In sharing the sufferings of others we indirectly spread joy”.
Mentioning adverse situations which can sometimes overwhelm personal goodwill: (injustice, natural or human-made disasters, etc.) the Bishop writes: “We must not despair. We must not give up. We put our trust in God even to the point of <doing the impossible>”. And he called for personal commitment, necessary to reform the social system and obtain justice for the weak and the poor.
“Loving service and selfless concern will bring immense consolation to our brothers and sisters - the letter continues - even if we do not obtain immediate results. It is easier to carry the cross in loving company. To stand beside the “least” of Jesus’ brothers and sisters is the best way to help them know Jesus…who said ‘Love one another as I have loved you ”.
The Bishop explains how service becomes evangelisation: “Seeing our concern our brothers and sisters will ask: who are these people? When they find out that we are the followers of Jesus they will come to the conclusion that those who believe in Jesus are those who love. I also want to know Jesus”.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/2/2004 lines 42 words 441)