Friday, October 9, 2009

A Korean Priest's Reflection On A Bus

A priest in our diocese writing for the Pastoral Newsletter recounted his experience riding on a city bus some years ago. It was late morning, the bus had plenty of empty seats, at the next bus stop a woman with two bundles got on . She put one of the bundles on the bus and went outside again for the second one. The bus driver with an irritated tone "is this a freight car!" he yelled.

The woman very sorry for the delay tried to get everything in order, pay her fare and get to a seat. Since she had two bundles unless someone helped her it was going to be a problem. A woman advanced in years sitting behind the priest quickly came up front to help with one of the bundles.

Since the the priest was the closest to the front of the bus he said that the thought never entered his mind to help. His only thought was one critical of the woman for carrying more bundles than she could handle. It was only after some thought that he realized the woman was poor, not able to travel by taxi, and forced by circumstances to travel with her bundles.

It is true that a man of advanced years in Korea is not expected to help a woman in such need; although it is not considered a fault he had misgivings. He considered that the main reason was his living as a priest and being the object of other peoples services that kept him at his seat.

He says Mass everyday, prays, reads the Scriptures and this in order to love more. He gives many talks on love and realized that when it came to acting in a loving way he was not ready.

The woman behind him did not read as many books on love or give talks on what it means to love but acted in a loving way when the occasion was presented. Her life was one of receiving and giving and when the occasion came she knew what to do.

We can fool ourselves he thought into thinking that because we have read many good books and have a theoretical knowledge of what is required that we are just wonderful. No matter how much theory we have in our heads that is not going to help us acting in a loving way.

Having high ideals is good and many are the people who act on these ideals. But if we do not live with others; do not make the effort to act on what we believe then just reading good books and praying will do little, he concluded, to enable us to be concerned for others.

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