Misunderstandings of common sense phrases and ideas sometimes used in our daily conversations occur frequently, such as "God helps those who help themselves," or a similar expression "Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you" (Found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2834). This way of thinking has a long history in the West, as it does it in the East. It appears in the Chinese phrase:盡 (All)人(Person)事( Work) 待 (Await) 天 (Heaven)命 (Orders), meaning "Do all you can and wait for heaven." We see these words framed on the walls of many homes and places of business here in Korea.
In our Scriptures, we find in Thess. 3:18 "Anyone who will not work should not eat." And in Mark 9:23 "Everything is possible for the person who believes." All such expressions point to the fact that as humans we do what is possible and then leave the rest to God. But many feel that prayer is sufficient, as if God will do all with his grace.
The misunderstanding of these expressions tends to appear when there is
a misunderstanding of grace; grace also seeks to move our feet and body
to accomplish what we pray for. Though all is grace, it requires some
thought to understand what this means without denying what is being said
by the statements quoted above. As Catholics we know that grace
cooperates with nature. There are obviously circumstances where the
phrase "All is grace" is used where it shouldn't be--as a put-down of
the poor and weak--but the basic truth of the idea is imbedded in
everything we do as Christians: to cooperate with the graces that are
Rev. Timothy Yu Gyoung-chon and Rev. Peter Chung Soon-taek O.C.D. were named auxiliary bishops of Seoul recently. Bishop-elect Yu in his book To the 21 century Believer,
reviewed recently by the Catholic press, says "The concrete putting
into practice what we believe is necessary if we want to see a change in
the world. Without this engagement with the world, no matter how much
we pray it will be only empty words." It is understood that he is
talking about those who are able to do something and do nothing.
is little justice in the world, mostly distrust and war which obviously
is not the will of God. When we ignore the reality we see around us, as
the bishop says, we are not living the life we have been called to
live. He wants us to be aware of this calling that we have as
Christians. Even though we might not see or experience injustice in our
own lives, we are not free to ignore the call we have received to
improve the world we live in.
need to improve the world is not some new way of thinking, he reminds
us, but the way Jesus lived during his time here on earth. We have all
been called to put into practice what we believe and what we say,
confessing by our actions what our hearts know about this God we need to