Saturday, August 18, 2012

Evangelization in Korea

Evangelization  a topic much discussed in Korea, should be preceded, says a priest in his Peace Weekly column on "Happiness," by an important preliminary activity if evangelization is to be successful. We now have 5 million Catholics and only about one-fourth of them are going to Sunday Liturgy. What is the reason they are not going  to church as they once did?  With annual  income now over 20,000 dollars a year many believe the churchgoers now want service. But the Catholic Church is not servicing them, and ignoring the crucial step in the evangelization process-service. To support this assertion, he cites the book: Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, an old book that stresses that customer management, serving the customer, is basic in satisfying customers' needs.

The word 'service' is used in many different ways. In the Church, it is not easy to find satisfaction in service rendered which in most cases means attending to the needs of the laity. Catholicism calls a follower of Jesus, "a person who believes."  Protestants say,  "holy people" and the Buddhists' a "son of Buddha." The Catholics have a vertical relational  structure and the others a horizontal structure.

Jesus' method of operations was service: "Anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant" (Matt.20:26). Jesus came to serve  others. The present culture within the  Church does not easily permit this kind of service. The Christians, the columnist says,  serve the priests and sisters, and the priests serve the bishops. A vertical system of communication.  Those outside  the Church will find the vertical system, knowing of Jesus' command to be of service to others, difficult to understand.

Jesus washed the feet of the apostles. He served his disciples as a lowly servant. Service is what the Church is all about.   The Church has to serve the Christians. If  we want to be successful in evangelizing  we have to move the hearts of our Catholics. More than getting out in the streets to evangelize it is necessary to embody service in our lives. When the Catholics are happy, it is easy to build a church,  When we are inspirited, we inspire others. We have a virtuous cycle that stimulates the Catholics to give of their money and services to the community.

A spirituality of joy is what is needed, God wants us to be happy. "Always be joyful; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks; this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (Thess. 5:16-18).

The Protestants tend to express this command  by using such words as thanksgiving, praise, glory, amen; Catholics more often hear the words repentance, liturgy, confession, stations of the cross. Which verbal expressions are more important is not the issue, says the columnist. What is important is the image Catholics and all believers, have of their faith. Is it a gloomy or a joyful spirituality?

We should never forget to be thankful for the graces that we have received and, as the columnists notes, to remember that joy is the essence of our faith life.  The issue he wants us to consider may not have been expressed, within the space limitations of a column, with the subtlety and comprehensiveness that such a topic warrants, but we can't miss the intent and truth of what was said.

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