Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hope for the New Year

Today we start with a new day, a  new month and a  new year. New is something different from what existed in the past. Time is not new, but what we will face, how we interact and prepare will be new. This is a time for resolutions as we look forward to a new beginning with hope. The Peace Weekly editorial wants us to be like the horse (the Asian symbol for the year 2014), with its strength to make the jumps necessary for a year of hope.
Pope Benedict, in the encyclical Spe Salvi, in the first paragraph, writes, "In hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, redemption (salvation) is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present time. The present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads toward a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey." 
We started the last  year with hope. 51 percent of the citizens voted for President Park with great hope, and those who didn't vote also continued to hope that things would be different. We Catholics had the hope that the Year of Faith would revitalize our life of faith. However, we have seen, instead, a lack of trust, an increase of confrontation, in politics no meaningful dialogue, the  breakdown of communication, and the pride of self-righteousness. Because of the illegal participation of government officials in the recent election process, there is a movement demanding that the president resign, and the opposition is also criticized for not acting maturely in the National Assembly.

Each diocese has worked in various ways to make the Year of Faith a profitable one for all, but one survey, which was considered a good reflection of the whole country, showed disappointing results.  Most Catholics, it was determined, follow their own values instead of the teaching of the Church. This is the reality of the Catholicism in Korea. Moreover, whether the Church should actively participate in political and societal issues is highly controversial. Even though those who do participate make up a small segment of the Church, it has brought on confrontation and hostility.

This reality, instead of giving us hope, upsets and gives rise to sighs and anger. But despite this feeling of frustration, we have to allow hope to be operative. Again, in the encyclical Spe Salvi, "All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action. This is so, first of all, in the sense that we thereby strive to realize our lesser and greater hopes, to complete this or that task which is important for our onward journey, or we work toward a brighter and more humane world, so as to open doors into the future. Yet our daily efforts in pursuing our own lives and in working for the world's future either tire us or turn into fanaticism, unless we are enlightened by the radiance of the great hope that cannot be destroyed even by small-scale failures or by a breakdown in matters of historic importance (#35).
As we begin this Year of the Horse, the editorial concludes with hope that we will not have the unhappy events of the past destroy our hope for the future. We, like the horse, should be vivified by new strength and should begin this new year with great hope. Place our trust in the Lord, and remember the words of  St. Paul, "Hope will not disappoint us" (Rom.5-5).

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