There are many events in which no invitations are received but people attend. Writing in the Peace Weekly a columnist mentions a recent event in which lay people were outside the church in the hot sun, and remained there during a sudden down pour in which they were soaked, but remained silent and in place, thankful for the relief. Most of them were elderly.
should be no discrimination for those attending the table of the Lord
but at these big events those who are invited are the 'somebodies' in
society. Those who have nothing but their faith find it difficult to
enter the door.
Last year after the visit of the pope
to Korea everybody in the Church were using the words: 'solidarity with
the poor'. These words signify our concern for the poor. We are concerned with the weak outside the church but
we forget the weak, the 'nobodies' within the church.
many Christians the threshold of the church is still too high.
When a parishioner comes to the parish office often they are asked:
Where are they from? what parish area, have they talked to the
district leader, have they made an appointment with the priest, are some of the questions by which they are greeted. Those who would like
to have some time in the confessional to speak find it difficult, and
those who are handicapped have to size up the situation every time they
Why is this the case? The columnist feels the customs have hardened, centered around the clergy and religious. " We have always done it this
way." Group lay leaders accepted this kind of
thinking, which makes it difficult for the ordinary person to be
comfortable within the community.
We have in Luke 6:32,
"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even
sinners love those who love them." Could it be that those who are no longer coming out to
church found a parish atmosphere which did not permit them to
ask priests, religious and lay leaders to share a little bit of their
Pope Francis makes it a point to accept warmly all those
he meets which is the reason for his popularity. He welcomes all the weak to center stage, and this sincerity is seen which comes from
mercy based on humility, and the reason for his concern for others. With a
little bit of warmth from the priest, a word of greeting, a
handshake, can bring about great change.
At the last
Mass in Korea, Pope Francis was in a sense inviting all those who were
the weak of the country as special guests to the front rows, and our
columnist would like that to be the case in all our Masses. Clergy
need to have this understanding of their pastoral role and have this pastoral discernment when relating with the community.