Thursday, June 12, 2014

Joy of the Gospel: Needs of a Tired Society

People in Korea work 2,090 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1,765 hours.The Desk Column in the Catholic Times brings to our attention this fact, and the Korean low happiness index compared with other countries.

A Korean Philosopher living in Germany, Han Byung-chul, says there is a certain sickness for each age and he, for our  society, calls it the 'Fatigue Society'.

According to Professor Han during the last part of the 20th century, we lived in a result-searching-society. This  was a new kind of society. Going back to the past was not permitted. If we  call this a negative society, what we have today is a positive society. We can do it. Looking for success is the basic rule. The problem with this is that when it becomes excessive others are threatened, and you end up putting pressure on yourself. "I can do it. I must do it well. I can do it." This kind  of thinking, he says, urges the person on. The result of his capabilities is the reason for existence and consequently, the reason for fatigue. When one is not able to achieve his goal, you have frustration and depression. One of the aspects of this society is that it gives birth to the leaders and those who become delinquents. In this search for results type of society, we have the depressed and the losers. Religion in this kind of society can't help but be influenced.

During  a  seminar sponsored by the bishops last year one of the presenters talked about religion and the believers in this 'fatigue society'. The hyper-positive society has lowered our level of immunity, and we are facing a crisis of faith.The result orientated society    emphasizes action and the gifts of believing, and not our duties as Christians.With this desire for what we can receive we lose the joy of our faith life. This brings into our life despondency, loss of faith, and skepticism. How do we break out of this  dryness? She asks.

Just recently at the Catholic University in the school of theology we had a symposium of  the Catholic and Protestant academics, using Pope Francis' Exhortation: Joy of the Gospel as the topic for  discussion. Many are the  ecumenical symposiums of the past, but this is the first time with a document written by the pope. We all need to find joy in our life of faith, a common need and the symposium was  a sign of its importance in our lives.

In our movement towards worldliness and materialism, we are losing the joy in life and being   overcome with the fatigue of life. We have to  return to the joy of the Gospel and begin to live it in our daily lives.

"We do well to keep in mind the early Christians and our many brothers and sisters throughout history who were filled with joy, unflagging courage and zeal in proclaiming the Gospel. Some people nowadays console themselves by saying that things are not as easy as they used to be, yet we know that the Roman empire was not conducive to the Gospel message, the struggle for justice, or the defense of human dignity. Every period of history is marked by the presence of human weakness, self-absorption, complacency and selfishness, to say nothing of the concupiscence which preys upon us all. These things are ever present under one guise or another; they are due to our human limits rather than particular situations. Let us not say, then, that things are harder today; they are simply different. But let us learn also from the saints who have gone before us, who confronted the difficulties of their own day. So I propose that we pause to rediscover some of the reasons which can help us to imitate them today" #263 of the Joy of the Gospel.

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