06/12/2022, 10.57
ECCLESIA IN ASIA
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Stephen Chow: Resilience through the cracks of Hong Kong

by Stephen Chow Sau yan

In the face of the increasingly evident shrinking of spaces of freedom in Hong Kong, the bishop's reflection published in the diocesan weekly: "God's love and light are found in all things, even in the cracks. Accepting change does not mean approving of it, but learning to discern new possibilities. The tougher the conditions, the more resilient life will be."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The recent complete ban on all forms of gatherings in Hong Kong on June 4 - the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre who's which victims are commemorated annually - was further evidence of the increasingly heavy-handed restriction on spaces of freedom imposed by Beijing. In this situation even the Masses that were being celebrated on this anniversary were suspended, lest they run the risk of falling under the axe of the draconian National Security Law. All this after the shock created by the arrest of Bishop Emeritus Cardinal Joseph Zen ze kiun, who was released on bail but still with the prospect of a trial in front of him. With what attitude to live as a Church within such a situation? That is the question Bishop Stephen Chow Sau yan of Hong Kong tried to answer in this article published in recent days in the diocesan weekly Sunday Examiner.

I recall the beautiful images of flowers and small plants breaking through the cracks of cobblestone streets or old stone walls. The charming pastel colors of the Spring flowers or the rich rustic colors of the Fall foliage coming from mere cracks are just wonderful. They are proofs of the amazing power of life that comes from the Creator. How can they grow up in such a tight and awkward environment? 

I can feel that Hong Kong, including our Church, are becoming more like an existence within cracks. We used to enjoy much space and freedom of expression when we could express our opinions in any way we like. Of course, as Christians, we should guard our tongues against immorality and self-righteousness. But that spaciousness for our freedom and expression, which we had taken for granted, seems diminishing. 

With that narrowing of space, we start to feel like living in cracks, which makes us nervous, anxious, disappointed, upset, frustrated, and angry. Some have chosen to settle in other countries. Some are observing, while some have little choice but to stay. As for me, I made my choice when I accepted my episcopal appointment, like many in Hong Kong who have chosen to stay. I want to share with you that the love and light of God can be found in all things, even cracks. 

Remembering the flowers, shrubs, and even trees that have germinated from cracks—they have demonstrated that nothing can prevent life from flourishing, adding colors, beauty, and hope to our world. The tougher the condition, the more resilient life will be. Cracks can even widen in some cases.  

Our religious faith is an amazing engine that empowers our lives, individually and collectively, if we positively live out our faith. However, if we only want to stick to the past, not ready to find God’s guidance in the changing context, our lives will become bitter and sour. Darkness will take hold of us. Accepting the changing context as reality does not mean endorsing it. But learning to discern new possibilities with a creative mindset amid tensions from the changing context is the way forward. And the future still holds its promises beyond our understanding. 

Discernment requires us to reflect and respond, not react. Alas, our present culture seems to be a reactive culture. We seem to be pushing each other to react almost instantaneously. We will not be able to discern God’s will if we allow ourselves to be carried along by this force. Instead, we will be enabling the pushers to be our gods. I am reminding myself of this, especially when the push gets stronger. Allowing ourselves the inner space to discern is essential and beneficial in the long run. 

Stephen Chow Sau yan, bishop of Hong Kong

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