As the New Year begins, I am very hopeful and excited to find out what it has in store for our church community. 2018 is the year of the Brown Earth Dog; and despite what people may predict for this year, whether good or bad, it is always up to us to make the most of what we have. Our mission of evangelization has a two-fold purpose: firstly, that Jesus be made known to those who do not know Him, thereby bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to others; and secondly, that we may deepen our personal relationship with Christ, thereby living out the Gospel’s message of love in our own lives. In my opinion, the success of a Christian church community is measured by the steadfast faith, enduring hope and caring love of its members. The fruits of having a faithful, hopeful and loving community are plentiful: joy, peace, understanding, kindness, respect and generosity, only to name a few. May we pray without ceasing, and in all circumstances give thanks to God, so that we may become the Christian church community that God wills us to be! (Rev. Bill Hao)
在馬爾谷福音裡，｢試探｣ 只用過五次。第一次是在今天的福音裡；在第一章第十三節，它說耶穌留在曠野裡，四十天之久，受撒旦的試探。最後一次是在第十四章第三十八節；在革責瑪尼祂剛被逮捕之前，耶穌告訴祂的門徒說：｢你們警醒，祈禱吧！免得陷於誘惑。｣ 現在我們來看看另外三次 馬爾谷福音用過 ｢試探｣ 的這個字。
在第八章第十一節，法利塞人出來，開始跟耶穌辯論，向祂要求一個來自天上的徴兆，想試探祂。這件事是當耶穌剛好顯了餵養群眾的神跡之候而發生的。法利塞人不是真的想要知道耶穌是不是默西亞；他們在心裡已經否定了耶穌，而且他們只想要激怒祂，把祂當做一個傻瓜，要祂做他們所要求的事。如果有人要跟你爭論，試探你，証明你是誰的時候，你會怎麼做呢？基本上這是一種自充為義人的試探，而是一個機會去告訴別人 ｢我會給你看！｣ 耶穌怎麼做呢？祂對法利塞人說： ｢我實在告訴你們，必不給這世代一個徴兆。｣ 我們能不能跟耶穌一樣的離開這種試探呢？
在第十二章第十四到十五節，法利塞人試探耶穌說：｢納稅給凱撒，可以不可以？｣ 耶穌回答說：｢你們為什麼試探我？拿一個德納來給我看看！｣在這裡，法利塞人又要試探耶穌，但是在這一次，他們要密謀與黑落德黨人來陷害祂。耶穌用了這個機會來轉變這個情況而教訓他們要回應天主祂所應得的；祂說：｢凱撒的，就應歸還凱撒；天主的，就應歸還天主！｣ 天主所應得的是什麼呢？最基本地來說，在我們每一天的生活中給天主讚美，光榮與感恩實在是理所當然的。不過我們給天主的讚美，光榮與感恩是用我們的行動比言語更真誠的表現出來的。福音裡充滿了豐富的倫理教訓。我們該花時間去反省耶穌所說的和所做的事情，而讓它們改進我們的態度和行為。請大家祈禱在今年四旬期的時間，我們可以真的變的更好。讓我們時常記得耶穌所說的話：｢你們警醒，祈禱吧！｣
1st Sunday in Lent
In Mark’s Gospel, the Greek word for “tempt” is used only five times. The first time it is used is in today’s Gospel (Mk 1:13), which says that Jesus remained in the desert for forty days where He was tempted by Satan. The final time it is used is in Mk 14:38; right before He was arrested in Gethsemane, Jesus told His disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not fall into temptation.” Let us now look at the other three times when the word “tempt” is used in Mark’s Gospel.
In Mk 8:11, the Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from Him a sign from heaven in order to test Him. This happened right after Jesus had just performed a miracle in feeding the multitude. The Pharisees were not genuinely interested in finding out if Jesus was the Messiah; they had already rejected Jesus in their hearts and all they wanted to do was to make Him look foolish by provoking Him to pander to their demands. When someone argues with you and tells you to prove yourself, what will you do? This is basically a temptation to be self-righteous and a chance to say, “I’ll show you!” What did Jesus do? He said to the Pharisees, “Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Like Jesus, can we walk away from this kind of temptation?
In Mk 10:2, the Pharisees tested Jesus by asking, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” The Pharisees were testing Jesus to see if He would contradict the Mosaic Law which allowed divorce; but instead of contradicting the Mosaic Law, Jesus taught them that divine law should be upheld over human law. Jesus told them that it was because of their hardness of hearts that Moses permitted them to write a bill of divorce and dismiss their wives. But Jesus added, “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
In Mk 12:14-15, the Pharisees tested Jesus by asking, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Jesus replied, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” The Pharisees were again testing Jesus, but this time they conspired with the Herodians in order to entrap Jesus. Jesus turned things around and took this opportunity to teach them that they must give God what is due to God; He said: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s.” What is due to God? In the most basic sense, it is simply right and just that we give praise, glory and thanksgiving to God each and every day of our life. But our praise, glory and thanksgiving to God is expressed more genuinely in our actions rather than words. The Gospels are so rich with moral teachings. We must spend the time to ponder over the things that Jesus said and did, and allow them to change our attitude and behavior. Let us pray that this Lenten season be the time when we actually change for the better. May we always remember what Jesus said: “Watch and pray!”
Our church will hold this year’s Chinese New Year celebration on February 24, 2018.
Invite your family and friends for a day of fun and enjoyment! Program begins at 10:30 am.