Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Strange Religion

"I Hear Your Voice," a popular Korean drama, explores an important Christian theme and value. A columnist in the  Peace Weekly uses the theme to bring our attention to a Christian value that we tend to forget. The women in his family, he says, enjoy watching the drama, especially because the young hero has the uncanny power of reading the hearts of those he meets, though not unconditionally. He succeeds only when gazing into their eyes. And it doesn't matter if the person is a friend, a stranger or an enemy. As long as he is gazing into their eyes, he hears the silent voice coming from their heart.

If the creators of this drama intended to tell us of the need to bring us closer together so we can understand each other better, then he wants to applaud their efforts. How interested are we, he asks, in our disordered society, to take a closer look at the people we meet and be open to what they have to say?

The Church began, he reminds us, when the apostles began to speak to the world. With the help of the Holy Spirit, in a very short period of time, these apostles were able to inspire many to follow them and accept the message they were preaching.

The columnist is curious to know whether there were other gifts given to the apostles besides overcoming prejudice, speaking foreign languages, and healing the sick. He wants to let his mind wander and think of other possibilities: Was it not the example of our Lord they were following? Did he not come to this lowly earth to speak to us, person to person, heart to heart? Wasn't Jesus, who was without sin, willing to be baptized as though he too needed to receive forgiveness for sin? Did he not associate with beggars, the disabled, tax collectors, prostitutes, talking with them and listening to what they had to say?  By witnessing these examples, the columnist believes the apostles were given another charisma: the desire to match their life to his. 

The apostles went out to the streets and byways of the world; they did not stay in their "exalted  seats." They went to the people, looked into their eyes, listened and spoke to them-- just like our Lord did. This was something you would not see in any gathering of religious people.

Christianity, he says, has to be seen as a strange religion when we ponder its core message: that the creator came to live among his creatures. As scripture has put it: "I have come to serve and share life with you." It was then that communication between heaven and earth began, he says. This is the road map we have written in our hearts. We should be going out to those who are wandering. It's the first step, he says, in evangelization, Our attitude could be summed up"We want to  hear what you have to say. And then we will tell you what the person we love said to us." 

Evangelization is, first of all, a sympathetic response when we listen closely enough to another person to hear the "voice of the heart." We can then expect that everyone will then reap the fruit of that sharing.

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