Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Anyone Not Against Us Is With Us

A meditation by a priest in a recent newsletter on the words of Jesus in Mark 9:40 : "Anyone who is not against us is with us."

We live , are brought up and die in a society that considers our affiliations very important. The writer loves to travel with his backpack and visit the different villages. When he meets some one at the entrance of a village he spends some time in small talk and goes on his way. In conversation an older person will often ask for his surname. When he responds and the person who asks has the same name, often there is rapport that wasn't there before; when the name is not the same there is a distancing in the relationship that he can almost feel. (The most common Korean surnames are Kim, Lee and Park and these are the names of almost half of the ethic Koreans in South Korea. )

Why should that be? he asks. The same name, hometown, school, same military bind us together. If we do not have these common elements there is a wall that can intervene and separate us. They can also separate priests from one another. When we begin to separate into factions we are far from wise: if he belongs to my team I am interested if not, I am not.

When this becomes a way of life it doesn't matter what a person does but to what group he belongs. It doesn't just stop here but those who are on the side lines are made to join. Are you with me or against me? And even worse forced to either be on the team or get lost.

This is an ailment of our society. There is no effort to embrace the other: are you with the flow or against it? There is a polarization that makes the wall even higher and makes us less wise .

It is necessary to have a vision. With a vision we want to embrace, work for unity, move peoples' hearts, work for solidarity: we begin to walk in the same direction.

We as Catholics know well that Jesus wanted us to be one. It was his last words. We are Catholic, a very beautiful word, beginning with a small letter: magnanimous open, universal, broad, comprehensive, global. With the capital letter it should mean all of these and more. If we consider this our vision as Catholics then it will overflow into our relations to others who are not Catholic: a community that is open, understanding and loving even when we do not agree. This is possible.