Wednesday, September 23, 2015

All Are VIPs

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.

There 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.

For 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 attend Mass.

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 love?

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.

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