A recent survey of 1000 citizens from high school up to those in their 50s on the degree of heat in their hearts, was publicized in the Korean press-- understood as psychological warmth or hope in the future. The average response was 14 degrees below zero. Fourth-year college student response was the lowest at 24.2 degrees below zero. Difficulty in finding work, and the competitive society in which they live was the reason.
Today in Korea, we celebrate the feast day of 103 martyrs: Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasan and Companions. In Korea, we no longer have the fear of the knife and torture in practicing our faith life, but the coldness of our hearts does prevent many of us from finding joy in life and wanting to extend this joy to others.
Not only in Korea but in many parts of the world, the numbers leaving the community of faith continue to increase, and without any external force, no knives and no torture; subtly and not so subtly, the influence of society continues to work very gradually on the thinking and feelings of many of this generation.
The readings for the Feast present us with a number of issues we may tend to forget: reasons we are followers of Jesus. We are reminded often that to become a Christian for what we will receive is not the way it is presented to us by Jesus. We are told in today's Gospel, Luke 9:23, the first step is to forget our-self, second, to carry the cross daily, and thirdly to follow Jesus: clear and precise explanation of the mission we have been given. Looking over the examples of those who followed Jesus to the cross we are given the other very necessary requirement.
At the cross those who were looking for some material recompense for their devotion to Jesus were no longer with him when he needed them most. Those who were present were the women who were not following Jesus for any earthly rewards, expecting a place in his cabinet in the earthly kingdom, as did the apostles. They accepted his love and that was sufficient, and helped him with their funds. The only other one present, of his inner circle, was the one who accepted Jesus's love. All of us who feel the love of God in our lives are present there at the cross with the beloved disciple.
Those who do not experience this Love are at a great disadvantage and why that should be the case certainly has something to do with our environment and those with whom we associate. God's love is a given, and we are programmed to receive. According to the survey at the beginning of this article when one is cold one looks for heat and when it is the psychic and the spirit that is cold it is a different type of warmth needed. The recompense is there, but we have to remember it is a by-product and not the direct results of our actions: a distinction with great meaning.