Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What Does Jesus Want In Discipleship?

    There are many attempts to understand the workings of the Spirit in the Church. Faith in search of understanding is a helpful starting point  to grapple with what  the Church is faced with here in Korea and throughout the world.
     A priest writing in the August issue of the Kyeong-Hyang Catholic magazine brings to the fore an issue you hear discussed often; the place of the laity in the Church.

    In the article, we are told that about 30 years ago you heard the  word sick instead of ordinary in many circles of the Church when referring to the lay person. The word for lay person with an  aspirated 'p' is (P'yeong)=ordinary; it is Pyeong=sick  without  the  aspiration. The priest is using this in jest, but telling us many of the  lay person were not properly motivated in entering the Church.

    In the 80s, many were entering  the Church. It was at this time that church attendance was mostly middle class; they were better educated and better off financially and socially, which prompted the Church to take an interest in the culture and arts of the times. It was also at this time that many Church buildings were built, pilgrimage sites began to develop, aid went to North Korea and other countries and, in general, more was done for the poor.  Much of good was done during this period.
    The priest exemplifies the change in the Church by three examples with which he was not happy.

    A parish priest wanted to start a free lunch program for the poor but the opposition was so great he had to discard the idea. The time was not ripe for the idea of free lunches in the parish: many thought it would attract 'undesirable' people and not be a good example to the children.  
    Priests  and religious were speaking out on human rights issues and social concerns and being met with opposition by many Catholics. There were even expensive advertisements put in  the daily press and gathering of signatures in opposition. Many protests  were made  to those in authority within the Church.

   The third example was the attitude of parents about sending their children to Sunday school. Many parents did not like the idea because these classes were attended by many who were not good students. The parents wanted their children to study, and Sunday school was a hindrance to this quest for good marks.

   A gallup survey that was made had  67.9% of those who had a religion considered peace of mind the number one motivation. Catholics according to a  survey made by the Catholic Times had 41.9%  and of those born Catholics 32.4% who were motivated by peace of mind.  This  showed the longer they were Catholic the more in tune they were with the Catholic view of life. This is not the kind of motivation that is a  sign that we have been evangelized by the teachings of Jesus. It is the thinking of the larger society but not of a disciple of Jesus. Peace of  mind is a by-product of discipleship and not  its reason.

    There is always the danger of separating our life into daily life and faith life, and thus living a double life. As disciples of Jesus, we have only one life. Whatever we do is done as a disciple of Jesus.   
    The priest was very honest in what he had to say, and  I wonder how much credence he will be given. Those of us who find the status quo pleasant enough do not want to change. That has been true throughout history, and it is no different today. Change is not always for the best but when we reflect on what our Lord expects from us as his disciples, the possibilities of change should not be written off automatically.


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