Five words from Scripture are sometimes heard in their Greek form, all referring to what a community of Christians should be doing: didache (teaching), diakonia (service), liturgia (worship), kerygma (proclamation) and koinonia (fellowship). All are important, but the one that needs to be stressed today is koinonia.
need to encourage more fellowship is especially important today because
our communities are larger and pastors are busier, and the individual
tends to get lost as a nameless member of a congregation with few
spiritual ties to other members of the community.
In preparation for the Bishops Synod, starting on October 7th, the
Catholic Church of Korea has emphasized the need to focus attention
more on the internal life of the church. Many Catholics believe that the
main goal of religion is to bring peace into our lives. Many articles
have alluded to this belief, which suggests that the catechizing has not
been successful. Although peace is something we all desire, for a
Christian, it should not be the goal of life; peace is a by-product of doing God's will, which comes about naturally from a
dying to ourselves so as to be born anew. If, instead, the motivation
of the Christian remains peace of mind all else is of little interest
and the essentials of Christianity will be missing. It can become a
selfish pursuit and, ironically, the more pursued the less achieved.
problem with making peace of mind the goal of Christianity is that
Christianity then becomes an individualized pursuit, each person
searching for his or her own personal fulfillment without feeling the
need to connect with other members of the community: a loss of
fellowship, of communication, of sharing that will ultimately bring
about the loss of community.
of community brings with it a loss of faith-sharing among our
Christians, which the Church has worked hard in developing over the
years, but is conspicuously absent in the life of many Christians today.
In the past all Christians would come before the priest as individuals
or as a family two times a year, once before Easter and again before
Christmas. The process demanded coming to the church and relating with
others and the priest, in order to help the Christians to focus on the
community rather than on themselves. They were asked to reflect on their
lives as Christians. This pastoral approach, though it has been very
successful in the past, is now no longer possible.
are many suggestions in the Catholic papers and magazines on how to
deal with the growth of the parishes and the lack of maturity among
many of the Christians, which has worked against encouraging more
community life. Jesus, when he selected his disciples, did not see them
as fully formed but saw what they could become with the graces given and
accepted. Koinonia, as experienced in community, can help a great deal
in preparing the proper environment to enhance Christian growth, opening
them even more to the graces God continues to bestow on us.