Monday, December 16, 2013

Gaudium Sunday

"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens." With these well-known words from Ecclesiastes, the Catholic Times' columnist, in the View from the Ark, begins his reflections on Mark 1:15 where the apostle speaks of a time of fulfillment. 

In nature, we see the cyclic fulfillment life and 'death' of plant life, as apparent loss is replaced each year with yet another return of vibrant life. In our churches, four candles are placed before the altar, to be lit one at a time until Christmas, then removed and  returned next year at the same time. A baby is in the mother's womb for 10 months (according to the Korean calendar), and the baby chick hatches after about 20 days. Everything has its time.

There is a time for quiet moments and a time for growth. Trees and grasses, animals and insects--all have a time for growth and maturation, and when the time comes, they pass from the scene; in the same way humans are born, grow and die. But it is only humans that want to shake off this allotted time and pace of life. 

When our ancestors wanted to enjoy a faster life, no matter how fast they wanted to go or to test their strength, there was a limit. We have overcome these problems with speed. We began with the bicycle, and have progressed to airplanes that travel at supersonic speeds. What we were not able to do in a lifetime, we can now do in one day. We have exceeded our greatest imaginings, the columnist points out, but have we become happier or more fulfilled?

Vegetables and fruits no longer know their seasons, and are seen in the markets all year long. With the application of fertilizers and growth hormones, they grow quicker and bigger. Since we prefer not to wait for them to mature naturally, we use heat and chemicals to speed their growth. Isn't this similar to the manufactured goods that come out of our industrial complexes? the columnist asks. And are we not misusing our natural resources simply to satisfy selfish desires, and in the process polluting our environment and short changing those who will come after us?

Moreover, aren't these products more expensive, with its tendency to foster consumer discrimination, separating us into different classes? When we ignore or interfere, he says, with the natural way of what exists, dissatisfaction with what exists is sure to follow.

City life is often cited as a breeding ground for this type of dissatisfaction; those who seem to enjoy city life the most are the sightseers. All the others seem to be in a big hurry. Since our life has become more comfortable, why are we in such a hurry? the columnist asks. It is not that we need to speed things up to get what is required. We seem to have forgotten what the natural rhythm of life feels like. To get back in tune with the natural way, it may be helpful, he suggests, to remember the saying: When one wants to go quickly, go alone. When one wants to go far, go with others.

Though a fast moving life is one of our modern attributes, how can we in this fast moving life see those who are hurrying along with us, or are behind us? We have no time to see who is hurting or falling behind, who is cold or in need of help.

In this kind of society, dissatisfaction and discrimination are bound to increase, fostering loneliness. And this lifestyle will lead to suffering not only for those afflicted with this tendency, but also for those they come in contact with.

During this season of Advent, let us remember to attend to the pace of our life, so that we can follow a more natural rhythm and not one imposed from without, and in this way find more satisfaction and joy in life.  When we see others who are struggling along the way, extend a helping hand and be prepared to meet Jesus and be filled with joy. The Church wants to remind us, this third week of Advent, Gaudium Sunday, that we are  meant to find joy in life despite the difficulties.

No comments:

Post a Comment