Sunday, December 14, 2014

Doers of the Word

During the liturgical year we have many reminders of where our attention should be directed, and today in Korea we think of the poor in our society and share what we have with them. The third Sunday of Advent is Almsgiving Sunday in Korea,  and also Gaudete, (Rejoice Sunday) reminding us we are to live with joy in our hearts.

We have a message from the head of the bishop's welfare committee that reminds us of the many poor in our society. There are about 4 million Koreans who are living in extreme poverty. Families with three members that do not have the minimum that the government has determined a family needs to live.

In the bishop's message he mentions that in a recent survey made, 86 percent of the Koreans find living difficult. The quality of life in Korea is one of highest in Asia, one of the economic strong countries in the  developed world, and yet many of the citizens consider life difficult: they work hard and have little time to rest.

There is good reason for this when we remember that Korea is a divided country, and with all the talk of war, nuclear armaments, and occasional belligerency, the ordinary Korean is not without serious worries about the future. The country is surrounded with three giant countries which have not always looked favorably on the South.

The top 20 percent of the citizens are earning 6 times what the lower 20 percent are earning. Neoliberalism is a strong economic philosophy that influences a great deal of society. The philosophy has helped Korea progress very quickly in the ranks of the economically strong countries, but also at a great price. The students are well educated and have shown this in comparison with other countries but here again the competition is unrelenting, and for the losers a cloud that remains with them for life.

Christians, the bishop reminds us, can't  separate the love of God from that of our neighbor. We have all heard that even a nation cannot eradicate poverty, it is the work of all of us. We need to participate in improving the way of life for all the citizens, and to help all live in the manner fitting a human being. Joy in life should be a given for all;  sharing what we have with those who have less than what they need is to be doers of the word and not only hearers.                                                                                                                        

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