Thursday, November 8, 2012

What We Do Makes a Difference

Writing in the Kyeongyang magazine, a seminary professor tells us of getting a present from a  parishioner who had just come from a party. He handed the rice cake box with the word 'Blessing' on top to the priest and rushed off.  The priest put the box in the fridge, planning to eat the rice cakes after Mass on Sunday, but when he opened the box he found only a towel inside; he was stunned.

Catholicism has always tried to give direction and purpose to our lives. The teaching has acted as a compass needle, which points out to us that we are the glory of God. When we live in harmony with this teaching, conscious of this dignity, we are giving glory to God. However, when the outside of things is not the same as the inside as we expect, confusion and disharmony usually result. the priest mentions  that when he prepares sesame seed oil, he always pours it into a plastic cider bottle, but the oil is always pure sesame seed oil. When the information on the outside is not the same as the content, we are momentarily stunned, as he was when he opened the rice cake box. His sesame oil is in a plastic soft drink bottle, but he knows it is pure sesame oil.

Life is full of the genuine and the fake. To help discern the difference, we need to distinguish what exists from what doesn't exist not from the outside, but  from the inside of things, the true content that often requires close observation to verify its existence, as shown by his two example.  We have been born as people of God, and if we are to give glory to God we have to live the 'inside' of this life we have been given.

The world is governed, it seems, with a perceived need for living a fast-paced life, though we have a hard time saying why we feel the need to live in such a manner. We don't know where we are going, but still feel we must do all we can to get there quickly. We don't take the time to trouble ourselves with the reason for all this 'hurry-up' activity. Getting there, looking for results above everything else, is what is important, not the process of getting to where we want to go. Our humanity is turned into a commodity, just another consumer item in our society. Materialism surrounds us, and unknowingly we go with the flow.

We have the highest number of suicides among the developed countries, and we continue to think that all is well. We are living in a culture of death and do not realize the harm that is being done. Why are we living this way?  It's a question most of us have stopped asking ourselves when we entered the culture of death.

Education (from the Latin 'educare,' to lead out) can help us answer such questions. In other words, we are to uncover what God has put in us, which is the  primary reason for education. We are to resonate to God's frequency like the vibrations from a tuning folk.  In the encyclical the Gospel of Life,  we are told how this should begin in the family, "It is above all in raising children that the family fulfills its mission to proclaim the Gospel of life. By word and example, in the daily round of relations and choices, and through concrete actions and signs, parents lead their children to authentic freedom, actualized in the sincere gift of self, cultivating in them respect for others, a sense of justice, cordial openness, dialogue, generous service, solidarity and all the other values which help people to live life as a gift (#92).

There are many in the Church today who are conflicted by what the church teaches and the values of our society.  Will things change if I change? they ask incredulously. They don't believe what they do will have any meaning. This way of thinking is prevalent. That is precisely why we have to continue to trust and give ourselves to the work we have been given as disciples. 

The article ends with the words of a cardinal who spoke to a group of Christians, "We must remember the words of Jesus to Peter, 'Master, we have been hard at it all night long and have caught nothing; but if you say so, I will lower the net'"(Luke 5:5). Following Peter's example, we must "lower the net," trust in the power of our faith and learn the law of obedience."