Saturday, October 26, 2013
We talk about unity within the Church as one of the signs of Catholicism: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Oneness, however, has to be explained, often with many words, to give the word credibility. It was probably less so in the past when words like heretic and schismatic would come easily to mind, but the present cultural sympathy for irenicism in dialogue has raised a potential problem among Catholics: how does one avoid conflict when the differences of opinion deal with serious problems. Conflict, however, is not always bad, provided we continue to search for the truth together with humility and respect.
Writing in a bulletin for priests, the columnist mentions a walk he took along a river bank and reminisced on the words: "Live fish swim against the current," as he watched the fish doing just that.
The popular thinking of every historical period influences, he believes our fashions, and the perceptions and conceptions that form our values, the "flowing river of an age." Living wisely requires at times,he says, that we swim against this current in search of the source, the true dimensions of our humanity.
Our present situation demands, he says, that we go against the current. Here we are faced with a dilemma: as a Christian we have to read the signs of the times; if we don't, we will be like driftwood buffeted by the winds. To do nothing is not a possibility for a Christian, when so often it is necessary to go against the flow. Many have lost the meaning of life, and go like dead fish along with the flow, he says, with empty cravings, chasing after illusions.
Jesus is the example of the fish who swam against the flow to go to the source. Ichthys (Greek for fish) was used as a symbol for Jesus during the early years of persecution. When everybody was saying "Yes," he was saying "No." And when they where saying "No," he was saying "Yes." He was one who gathered strength from what should be. He fought against all that would separate us from God.
Everything we consider important was put in its proper place: long life, popularity, material goods. He did not accept the way things were being done, and expressed this by words and actions that brought him death.
In Korea, the problems with unity in the Church are not as serious as in other areas of the world but they do appear. "In all things charity" is understood by all, but for some, speaking the truth is charity even when it hurts, while others feel the truth can be expressed in ways that do not hurt. Opposition to the direction of government is one example that brings conflict within the Christian community. The prophetic calling we have as Christians may be easier for some than for others, and when the calling is felt and acted upon by some, this rubs many the wrong way. Can one answer a prophetic calling, and not hurt others? The new academic study of conflict resolution may help in acquainting us with more of the dynamics involved with this pressing problem, and suggest ways of resolving the problem.