Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Brothers and Sisters on the One Peninsula

A priest-columnist of the Catholic Times, working with refugees and writing his weekly column on reconciliation and unification on the Korean peninsula, has recently spoken of the need for unreciprocated love to resolve the issue.  The efforts of the South to show concern and love for the sisters and brothers in the North have often been frustrated, and yet the  columnist says this love is necessary if we are to see any results with reconciliation and unity of the country.

In his last column, he wrote about our ability to choose, which is an important  element in our daily lives. Those in the North are limited in their ability to choose in comparison to the South, he says. This is a reason why meeting those from the North for the first time can be confusing, especially when going to a restaurant with a recent refugee and asking them to choose from the menu. It's not easy for them to make their selections.

For a person who has never made a choice in their life, to be told: "Don't bother yourself too much, make a choice, you can worry about it later"--sounds easy but not for them. For them, choice is a matter of life and death, though difficult for us in the South to understand. We have no reason to consider those who have left the North as being less intelligent than we in the South, he says. They have made a momentous choice that most of us in the South have not been faced with: leaving home and friends and crossing over a number of borders for freedom.

The cause and effect of their choices meet here in the South as they live as refugees, making clear to them the difficulty of what they have done. There is little that makes their choice easy. We in the South should help make their choice less uncomfortable, the columnist urges, relieving them of much of the worry they may have in entering a different culture.  However, we in the South by accepting these refugees have raised a question of choice on our part. Have we, out of habit, made the welcoming of these refugees a question of choice? What should a Christian do? he asks.

When we as Christians do make it a matter of choice, we are going against everything that Christ has asked us to do, says the columnist. We are refusing to accept a member of our family, rather than loving those who are unable to reciprocate. Living with Jesus is not a matter of choice; even though we do not understand the mystery completely, we live it. Within that mystery  there is no reason for North-and-South-thinking--only the reason for living together as brothers and sisters.

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