Cardinal John Tong Hon, Apostolic Administrator of Hong Kong (who was bishop of the diocese from 2009 to 2017), sent a pastoral letter for the Advent season to the Hong Kong faithful. In his letter, published on November 24, the day of the solemnity of Christ the King, Cardinal John Tong invited Hong Kong Catholics to take the example of early Christians, while the political crisis continues to shake Hong Kong after several months of protests against the Chinese authorities: "'Maranatha' [Come, Lord Jesus!] is the cry of Christians in distress, who seek strength and consolation. It is also their prayer as they wait in the faith for the coming of the Prince of Peace. "

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Because early Christians believed that Christ was the only true God and that they refused to recognize Caesar as a god as well, the Romans regarded them as traitors, as disloyal subjects to the state, and they subjected to exclusion and persecution. It lasted three hundred years. Whenever they met, Christians greeted each other with the Aramaic word "Maranatha" ("Come, Lord Jesus!") As a sign of encouragement and remembrance. Because Christians believe that Christ the King is not only a temporal power, but that He reveals and makes present the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. The Lord promised that He would come again to establish the Kingdom of God. This is why "Maranatha" is the cry of Christians in distress who seek strength and consolation. It is also their prayer as they wait for the coming of the Prince of Peace in the faith. Later, at each Advent season, the Church began using the word "Maranatha" as a sign of mutual encouragement. The idea is to strengthen his faith, to remain vigilant, and to discern the signs of the times as we move towards the advent of the Kingdom.

As Catholics in Hong Kong, during this time of Advent, we feel more than ever the urgency of this prayer. Since mid-June, the extradition bill has led many Hong Kong citizens to gather and protest in the streets. But events have worsened in recent months, despite the official withdrawal of the bill: mutual suspicion, rejection and hostility between groups of various political positions are not appeased. The situation has tended even between friends and families. The Church is a microcosm of Hong Kong society. Thus, many Catholics suffer from this social crisis, and experience stress, anxiety, depression or even anger; even their faith is shaken. How to deal with this situation? Take for example the early Christians, and cry:"Come, Lord Jesus! Come and deliver us trials and difficulties, come bring us inner peace and lasting peace. " The early Christian experience tells us when they were praying, they experienced the coming of the Savior. They were touched by the consolation, liberation, healing and conversion brought by the Risen Christ.

To accompany and listen, to revive hope

Here are biblical stories that we can meditate. Chapter 24 of the Gospel according to St. Luke tells us of two disciples who, after the apparent failure of Jesus on the Cross, left Jerusalem in sadness, troubled by the future. They met Jesus on the road, telling him their pain and despair. Jesus listened to them patiently, before asking them: "Was it not necessary for Christ to suffer this to enter his glory? " (Lk 24: 26) The disciples later said: " Our heart was not it burning within us while he talked to us on the road and opened the Scriptures? "(Lk 24:32) Because Jesus listened to them and walked with them, because he enlightened them about the mystery of the Passion, they recognized the risen Christ. They found hope and returned to Jerusalem to tell the apostles what had happened on the road.

Chapter 20 of the Gospel of St. John tells the story of how the risen Christ appeared to his disciples. Thomas was not with them. Later, when he heard their story, he refused to believe. He had to verify the truth by himself: "If I do not see in his hands the mark of the nails, if I do not put my finger in the mark of the nails, if I do not put the hand in his side No, I will not believe! "(John 20:25) Jesus appeared to him later with the apostles, and invited him to examine his wounds. In the mystery of the Resurrection, Jesus not only showed Thomas the reality of violence, but he also showed him how the Resurrection changes cruelty and destruction into sacrifice and giving for love. Finally, Thomas believed that even though he died, Jesus is resurrected and still alive today. In March 2019, Pope Francis wrote in his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit addressed to "the young people and all the people of God":"Your savior lives. If he lives, it is a guarantee that the good can make a way in our life, and that our hardships will serve something. We can stop complaining, and look forward because, with him, we can always. This is the security we have. " ( Christus Vivit , Section 127)

Pray for Hong Kong

This is why I announce that during this new liturgical year, the diocese will use the expression "Come, Lord Jesus! As a pastoral theme for the year. For this reason, I appeal to all our brothers and sisters in the Church. In addition to the fervent prayers asking the Lord to give us strength and consolation in suffering, let us help the many communities, organizations, parishes and diocesan offices, help each one of us to recognize the Lord Jesus who still lives among them. He will always walk with us in trials, to revive our hope. He will cast out prejudices from our hearts so that we may see with the loving Father's eyes, and so that we may recognize each other as brothers and sisters. And he will touch the wounds of our hearts and minds, to turn them into sources of joy and mercy. Let us pray for one another, and continue to pray fervently for the well-being of Hong Kong society.

(Source: Églises d'Asie - le 3/11/2019, Sunday Examiner / Cardinal John Tong Hon)