Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Going Against the Culture

In Korea, we have many who desire to become disciples of Jesus and are baptized, happy to be called brothers and sisters. However, once baptized  there is  a concern on how to address one another. A religious sister writing in View from the Ark column of the Catholic Times deals with the conundrum some Christians face.

She mentions that in Korean culture from the long past, calling a person by their name is not something that agrees with Korean sensibilities or ways of behaving. When we are dealing with seniors and persons with a higher position, it's  nearly impossible to call them by their given name. Consequently, a person is called by their office or position: teacher, president, director, chairmen and the like.

This very fact goes to show that we are not on equal footing, she says. Age and position are what is   important. Meeting for the first time we have to determine who is older or younger, so we will know how to address them. We find it difficult to call a person by their name alone: a sign of impoliteness and disrespect. This is true even within the church community.

She wonders if Jesus would be happy with the situation that we have in the church. Poor, and those with  difficult jobs are intimidated when they come to church. Not once in their lives have they had a job in which they would have a leadership position, or work that was respected.

We are all brothers and sisters within the church community, equal and with no highs or low, this is also  expressed in the liturgy. And yet within the community we have those who if not called by their titles think etiquette is breached, and feel diminished in the eyes of others. In Korean church beginnings, we had nobles, commoners and slaves all sitting and eating  together and calling each other brothers and sisters. We are no longer living in Chosen Dynasty  times, and yet rarely use our given and baptismal names when addressing each other, but titles of rank or work.

She concludes with a strong wish that we begin using in the community the names we were given by our parents and the baptismal name we received when baptized. She would like  priests and religious to be the first to show us by example: calling the parishioners by their baptismal name preceded by brother or sister.

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