沒有群羊的世界…──WHAT ARE SHEPHERDS FOR IN A WORLD WITHOUT SHEEP (Prof. McCann)- 2009.8.30

證道:Prof. Dennis P. McCann
題目:沒有群羊的世界,牧者有何用呢?

羊與牧人二者的形象,構成了基督徒意想中很重要的一部分。其中最早的一個形象,就是逾越節羔羊所象徵的耶穌基督。耶穌在十字架上所受痛苦和死亡的意義,透過了猶太人逾越節禮儀中所獻上的無辜羔羊已經象徵出來了。耶穌復活之後,在委任彼得一個重大使命、要他關照基督徒會眾時,也親自提到羊:「西門彼得,你愛我比這些更深麼?你餧養我的小羊,牧養我的羊。」(約翰福音21:15-19)

照約翰福音前幾章所記,耶穌讓人想起祂曾宣稱自己是好牧人,而好牧人為他的羊捨命。(約翰福音10:1-18)在今天所唸的經文裏,我們看見牧人與羊的形象,已經深深的植根在古時猶太人的歷史裡。這可以從名為大衛王的詩篇23篇裡集中表現出來。「耶和華是我的牧者,我必不至缺乏…」,同時,我們也聽見先知耶利米譴責那些作為牧者的以色列君王的言詞。他們「趕散我的羊群、並沒有看顧他們」(耶利米23:2)。

那些常來此處崇拜的人,如果覺得這種說法不過是老生常談的話,不妨回憶一下十個星期之前在”好牧人的主日”所聽到的。然而我們為什麽還舊調重彈,一再提到牧人與羊群呢?到底還能多說些甚麼呢?

也許我們需要更具體的思考一下有關羊與牧人的事,好使我們藉著它能夠更清晰的聽見神所要向我們說的話。世界上羊群的數量,並非分佈得那麼平均,你在香港曾看見過羊隻麼?山羊也許是有的,但卻不是綿羊。

根據聯合國食物與農業組織(FAO)2004年的記錄,中國目前是擁有最多綿羊的國家,總數幾乎達到1億5千8百萬隻。當然我們有興趣想知道,這大部分的羊群是否散佈在中國西部省分;在紐西蘭來說,和羊群接觸,簡直就是司空見慣的事,因為羊群的總數比起人口來,幾乎要多出四倍。同樣的,澳洲是繼中國之後,擁有第二大羊群數目的國家。所以你若是對羊群或牧人的事不熟悉的話,也毋須感到難為情。事實上,二者在香港是很罕見的。

在這一方面看來,我們今天的生活與經歷,與聖經所講論的世界是很不一樣的。由於我們身處於一個沒有羊的世界裏,我們對牧人可能沒有甚麼感覺。此外,雖然漢字中的”羊”字與”美”字有點關聯,如許慎的《說文解字》所謂「羊大為美」,但在英文來說,”sheep(羊)”and”sheepish(像羊一般的)”二字的意義,卻是模稜兩可,有些矛盾。從某一方面看來,主在馬太福音25章31-33節裡曾設個比喻說:世界末日審判的時候,祂會把綿羊山羊分別出來。在英語的一般的慣用法上,綿羊都被視為良善的,因為牠們的天性馴良、易於駕馭,但山羊卻被視為邪惡的,因為牠們是野性難馴,不受羈絆的,因此,山羊的角有時甚至是被當作魔鬼的象徵。從另一方面說來,英語裏有一個字叫”sheepish”(像羊似的),含有阿諛奉承的意思。說一個人”像羊一般”,是表示他像羊那樣溫馴、愚拙及懦弱、膽怯。如果你的舉止”像羊一般”(即所謂”羊手羊腳”)的話,那就表示你做事尷尬異常、過分羞怯,甚至乎被人奚落,成為不受歡迎之人。其實像羊一般、舉止像羊,就表示幼稚、做事不經大腦,或是人云亦云,亦步亦趨,全無主見。”像羊一般”一詞,在英語中既這種聯想,有誰還願意被視為”像羊一般”的人呢?

可是,牧人與羊二者,卻是並行不悖的。真正的羊是需要有人看管的,牠們需要有人來牧養,因為這是保謢牠們免被殺害(像被狼所吞噬)的唯一辦法。狼是相當精明的,牠知道只要將羊群驅散,就可以為所欲為了。當羊群被分散、孤立的時候,就容易成為牠的餐點了。羊固然很容易被率領,但牠們也容易因為沒有牧人把牠們聚攏在一起而迷失了,牠們也可能會驚慌而分散。在某些方面,羊可能有點笨拙,但牠們能夠取得真正牧人的愛謢與忠誠。一個牧人可以冒著性命的危險,把一隻羊從豺狼的虎口中搶救回來,這個說法,是不會太過離譜的。至於雇工,他們看守羊群,只不過是為了一天的工資,沒有人會企望他們盡心竭力的去牧養羊群。雇工究竟是雇工,他不能像真正牧人那樣去了解羊群。

那些研究這類事物的人告訴我們,羊是最早被人類所馴養了的動物中一種,距今至少在一萬年之前,始於中東或亞洲的西部,羊與牧人很容易就建立起一種彼此受惠的關係。雖然有一些的羊,尤其是一些幼小的羔羊,偶爾會被宰殺成為盤中餐,但只要牧人對羊照顧周全,並且不太貪心或不負責任的話,整個的畜群必會繁盛起來的,因為只要你關心羊、牧養羊,羊是多產的,牠的數目就會跟著加增,那時候照顧羊群的牧人之財富,也必然相應的加增。牧養羊群,從羊群身上剪取羊毛去製成各種有用商品以供人們享用,是屬於最古老的一種工業。畜牧的人進入由農民所建立的鄉村、鄉鎮以及城市中,就是為了貿易和謀生的緣故。由於從事畜牧與農耕的人所過的生活方式和需要不同,因而常常導致利益衝突,例如,早期的埃及人,不願意有羊在他們的田野間放牧,就把羊群及牧人局限在歌珊一地,歌珊位於尼羅河的東面,朝向西乃山,是一塊不適合農耕的地方。雙方雖有這些爭論,但也正因為有這些歧見,貿易就成為一種可行及渴求的事,最終人類的文明也隨之出現了。

當我們從以上的觀點來觀察聖經上許多有關羊與牧人的故事時,我們可能就領會到先知耶利米何以用很強烈的筆觸,將神對於背信棄義的以色列、猶大君王所發出的憤慨描述出來。因為他們沒有對神及百姓盡忠職守,神就會把他們的國交付給他們的敵人,藉以懲罰他們邪惡的行為,但在毀滅之餘,耶利米還預言:被擄剩餘的人最終還將歸回本地,且有新的牧人王者…一位新興的大衛王來治理他們,以取代過往的舊君。從聖經的觀點看來,我們得知羊與牧人的形象,確實是帶有政治性的,它們是依據聖經給人提供一種表達對腐敗和不義所發憤慨的方式。質言之,即對於那些矢言要為人群服務,卻墮入腐敗和不義深坑的人,要如何表達神的義怒。在此同時,它們也給人帶來一種表達希望的途徑,期望新的領袖們能遵循誓言,在他們的身上體現神所應許的公義。

聖經中含有政治性的意味,並非世俗觀念學家所發明,為了要分散我們敬拜神的注意力。在馬太福音書裡,作者記載耶穌餵飽五千人的故事,再一次使我們想起好牧人的意義。我們可以想像一下:當時的群眾,身穿粗衣、手提毛毯,成群結隊,簇擁著耶穌,從遠處望去,不正像一群被放牧在山坡上的羊嗎?可是,他們卻一直沒有食物可喫,直等到那位牧人前來餵養他們。出現如此大批的群眾,非同小可,絕不是一樁個人的私事。在這裡,作者刻意提出一個新的政治形像,在即將來臨之神的國度裡要出現的。耶穌餵飽了那些前來聽祂講道的人,正扮演了耶利米預言中所指的那位善牧君王。

新約以弗所書給我們提供了一幅有關這個新政治方案的發展程序和有承諾效果之圖像。神國度展開的時候,它會將分割猶太人和外邦人之間的歷史冤仇廢掉,並彌補二者之間的鴻溝:「因他使我們和睦、將兩下合而為一、拆毀了中間隔斷的牆。而且以自己的身體、廢掉冤仇、就是那記在律法上的規條。為要將兩下、藉著自己造成一個新人、如此便成就了和睦。既在十字架上滅了冤仇、便藉這十字架、使兩下歸為一體、與神和好了。並且來傳和平的福音給你們遠處的人、也給那近處的人。因為我們兩下藉著他被一個聖靈所感、得以進到父面前。這樣、你們不再作外人、和客旅、是與聖徒同國、是神家裡的人了。並且被建造在使徒和先知的根基上、有基督耶穌自己為房角石」(以弗所書2:14-20)。在神的國度裏,將來只會有一群羊和一個牧人──那就是這個新政治的期望和目標。

或許我們認為自己並不是羊,也不需要一個好的牧羊人。不過,縱然羊與牧人的形像與我們個人的經驗尚有一段距離,但一旦這形像的意義被解開之後,我們便曉得他們的力量及智慧。我們也許不是羊,但我們是一群人,因而我們便需要有適當的領導人,要不然我們就會被分散、受干擾、受困惑、害怕那些與我們不一樣的人,甚至乎易於陷入驚慌與暴力之中。

我原是一個外來的客人、一個寄居者而已,但多年來我卻深愛著香港和中國,至於對某些事件的是非得失,我是不適宜加以評論的,例如樞機主教陳日君先生一年前在香港回歸十一年的記念日裏,引述聖經以西結書34章,告誡那些不忠心的牧人,質疑政府拖延在港全面推行民主制度一事。這個說法的對與錯,應留待你去作出判斷,同時,你的良心也會在你為正義奮鬥時給你作出正確的指引。再者,從以弗所書所描述有關猶太與外邦之間的冤仇看來,最引人注目的,莫過於今天新疆人民(漢族與維吾爾族)所受的。假使我們認真正視耶穌的門徒以族群合一為他們所期望之事的話,我們又該為新疆做點甚麽事呢?我們是否只為在暴亂中遇難者來禱告便了事,而不做任何可以做的事以確保事件不再重演呢?假若羊群當中有漢人及維吾爾族人,身為一位真正的王者牧人應該如何處理呢?你真的以為他只要把綿羊從山羊中分別出來,就大功告成了麼?假使新疆的事過於遼遠,難以考量,何不把焦點放在香港?為何最近一位菲律賓女傭因患了猪流感(H1N1)而被送到醫院去,就迅速引起社會上某些人強烈的抗議,把大家對菲傭的抱怨、牢騷(不管是真實的或是想像的)都一併的發洩出來?你是否真的相信我們近這幾星期以來目擊的種種反應,只單單表達一種對衛生本身的關注麼?

或許由於恐懼心理作祟,我們想不到自已根本就像羊一樣,可是,要成為一隻羊,而又不類似羊一般的膽怯、懦弱,真是談何容易,更進一步說,我們要是成為一個好牧人,誠心誠意的關心自己的羊,盡自己所能的去認識牠們,親近牠們,這便更富有挑戰性了。這就是神呼召我們和我們的領袖們所要去體現及實行的事。願神賜我們勇氣與智慧去聆聽祂的話語,並且靠著祂的恩典作出回應,使我們順著祂的帶領來走祂要我們走的路。阿們!


“What are Shepherds for in a World without Sheep?”

Images of Sheep and Shepherds form an important part of the Christian imagination. One of the earliest of these is Jesus Christ represented as a Paschal Lamb. The meaning of his suffering and death on the cross is symbolized by the innocent lamb sacrificed as part of the Jewish ritual of Passover. Jesus himself speaks of sheep when, after his resurrection, he commission Peter with the task of looking after the Christian community: “Do you love me Simon Peter more than these? Then feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” (John 21: 15-19) Earlier on in John”s Gospel, Jesus is remembered as proclaiming himself the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. (John 10: 1-18) And as we see in this Sunday”s readings, the images of shepherds and sheep run deep in the history of Ancient Israel, focused through Psalm 23 attributed to King David: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want….” We also have heard the prophetic speech of Jeremiah who denounces the rulers of Israel as shepherds who “have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them.” (Jeremiah 23) If much of this sounds familiar to those who come here often, you may recall that Good Shepherd Sunday was just ten weeks ago. So why are we at it again about shepherds and sheep? What more can be said about them?

Perhaps we need to think more concretely about sheep and shepherds in order to hear better what Word of God may be saying to us through them. Populations of sheep are not evenly distributed around the world. Have you ever seen sheep in Hong Kong? Goats, perhaps, but not sheep, though China today is home to the single largest population of sheep, nearly 158 million in 2004, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It would be interesting to know whether most of these sheep reside in the Western provinces. In New Zealand, however, contact with sheep must be a very frequent occurrence, since there are nearly 4 times as many sheep as there are people. Similarly, in Australia, with the world”s second largest population of sheep after China. So don”t be embarrassed if you are not on intimate terms with sheep or shepherds. Both are very rare here in Hong Kong.

This is one of the ways in which our lives and our experience differ greatly from the world of the Bible. Because we live in a world without sheep, we may not have much feeling for shepherds. Besides, though the Chinese character for beauty makes reference to sheep, in the English language, “sheep” and “sheepish” carry some ambivalent meanings. On the one hand, following the Bible (Matthew 25: 31-33), the English language imagines Judgment Day as a time when the Lord will separate the sheep from the goats. In English usage, sheep are regarded as good because they are docile and easily led, while goats are regarded as evil because they are unruly and randy. A goat”s head at times has been used to symbolize the Devil. On the other hand, there is the English term, “sheepish,” which is anything but flattering. Sheepish means resembling sheep in meekness, stupidity, and timidity. To act sheepishly is to show embarrassment, or an uncommon shyness, to the point of calling unwelcome attention to oneself. Sheepish behavior is either silly and inconsequential, or it is mindlessly conformist. With such associations in English, who wants to be thought of as sheepish?

Yet shepherds and sheep go together. Real sheep really need looking after. They need to be herded, for it is their only way of protecting themselves from predators, like wolves. Wolves are very smart – they know they can succeed by dispersing the sheep. Once isolated, the sheep are more easily made a meal of. Thus sheep may easily be led, but they are lost without a shepherd to keep them together. Otherwise they may panic and scatter. Sheep may be dumb in some ways, but they manage to attract the love and loyalty of real shepherds. The idea that a shepherd might risk his life to rescue a sheep from an attack by the wolves is not that far-fetched. The hireling, who may watch over the flock merely for a day”s wage, is not expected to be so devoted. After all, he doesn”t know the sheep the way a real shepherd does.

Those who study such things tell us that sheep were among the very first animals to be domesticated by people. It all started in the Middle East, or if you will West Asia, at least 10,000 years ago. Sheep and shepherds readily developed mutually beneficial relationships. Even if some of the sheep, particularly young lambs, were occasionally harvested for food, the herd would flourish, if the shepherd were devoted to them and weren”t too greedy or irresponsible. When well cared for, sheep are very prolific, and so the flocks would increase, and with them the wealth of the shepherds who tended them. Gathering wool from sheep and weaving it into a variety of useful products for human use is among the oldest industries. It gave the herdsmen a reason to go into the villages, towns and cities established by the agriculturalists. The different needs and lifestyles of farmers and shepherds often led to conflict – the Egyptians, for example, did not want sheep grazing in their fields, and so they confined both sheep and shepherds to the Land of Goshen, that is, the area east of the Nile River, and on toward Sinai and beyond, that was unsuitable for farming. Despite these differences, or perhaps because of them, trade became both possible and desirable, and eventually a civilization would emerge.

When we view the Bible”s many stories about sheep and shepherds in light of these observations, we may be able to appreciate the emotional intensity of Jeremiah”s portrayal of God”s anger over the faithlessness of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Because they have failed in their duties to both God and the people, their kingdoms will be given over to their enemies in punishment for the evil they have done. But beyond the destruction, Jeremiah prophecies that at remnant eventually will return and a new shepherd-king, a new David, will be placed over them. We learn, then, that images of sheep and shepherds, in Biblical perspective, are unfailingly political. They provide a Biblical way of expressing one”s outrage over corruption and injustice on the part of those who have pledged themselves to serve the people. They provide a Biblical way of expressing one”s hope for change, for new leaders who will live up to their pledges, who will embody in our lives God”s promise of Righteousness.

The political meaning of the Bible is not something invented by secular ideologues bent on distracting us from our worship of God. Matthew”s Gospel, in recalling the feeding of the 5000 presents us with yet another echo of the Good Shepherd. We can well imagine the people, in their rough garments and blankets, from a distance looking like sheep grazing on the hillside. But they have no food, until the Shepherd feeds them. With a crowd so large, this is hardly a private affair. It is deliberately proposed as an image of a new politics, emergent in the coming of the Kingdom of God. In feeding the people who came out to hear him, Jesus assumes the role of the Shepherd-King prophesied by Jeremiah.

Ephesians provides us with a glimpse of both the process and the promised outcome of this new politics. The Kingdom of God, as it is inaugurated will overcome the historic enmity and division of Jews and Gentiles. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility…. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” (Ephesians 2: 14-20) In God”s Kingdom, there will be but one flock and one Shepherd: that”s the hope, the goal, of the new politics.

Perhaps it is a mistake to assume that we are not sheep, and no longer in need of a good shepherd. Though the images (of sheep and shepherd) may be distant from our own experience, once they are decoded we may understand their power and wisdom. We may not be sheep, but we are a people, and we do need proper leadership. Otherwise we become scattered, distracted, confused, fearful of people who are different from ourselves, and easily prone to panic and violence.

I am a foreign guest here, merely a sojourner, but one who has loved Hong Kong and China for many years. It is not my place to judge whether, for example, Cardinal Zen was right a year ago on the 11th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China to invoke the Bible”s warnings – Ezekiel 34 – against faithless shepherds to challenge the government”s lengthening delays in establishing full democracy here. (cf. http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=12674) That is up to you to judge, and your own struggles in good conscience. Still, can it escape our attention that today nobody suffers more from the enmity described in Ephesians than the people of Xinjiang Province, both Han and Uighurs? What might we do about Xinjiang, if we were to take seriously the vision of unity that Jesus” disciples placed their hopes in? Would we be content merely to pray for the victims of violence, without doing something to help ensure that it never happens again? What would a true Shepherd-King do, if his flock included both Han and Uighurs? Do you really think his work would be finished with separating the sheep from the goats? But if that”s too far away to consider, why not focus on Hong Kong? Why is it that the case of one Filipino maid being taken to the hospital with swine-flu has prompted certain elements in the community to once again roll out all their grievances – real or imagined – against the foreign domestic helpers? Do you really believe that the reactions we”ve witnessed this past week express merely a concern for proper hygiene?

Perhaps in our fears, we are more like sheep than we had imagined. It is hard to be sheep without becoming sheepish, and even more challenging to become a good Shepherd genuinely caring for the sheep, while knowing them as intimately as he should. But this is what we and our leaders are called to be and to do. God grant us the courage and wisdom to hear his Word for us, and with his grace to respond to it wherever it may lead us. Amen.


香港中文大學 崇基學院禮拜堂
Chung Chi College Chapel, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
主日崇拜時間
Sunday Service Time
星期日上午十時三十分
10:30 a.m., Sunday
地址
Address
香港中文大學崇基學院禮拜堂  
Chung Chi College Chapel, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
崇拜以粵語、普通話及英語即時傳譯進行。
The Sunday Service is conducted simultaneously in Cantonese, Putonghua and English with the help of interpretation.
歡迎任何人士參加   All are welcome
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