The American futurist Jeremy Rifkin, in his book "The Age of Empathy" reminds us: 'Humans are basically a sympathetic species' recalling the history of humanity's loss of empathy in the civilization of competition and exclusivity. We need a new paradigm of empathy and networking that we have lost and need to regain. So begins an article by a seminary professor in the Catholic Times.
Empathy is not merely sympathizing with another, understanding with the mind another's feelings and situation. Rather it is to participate and share in the feelings and to want to become one in the experience of the other. He personally has come to use the word often and realized that in the last century humanity experienced exclusion, conflict and selfish greed making it difficult to practice living together with others harmoniously.
In the past, the traditional society rejected values and ways of life that were not passed down. Modern society does not reject the different and what one considers error but wants to engage with the other in dialog and cooperation.
This new spirit of empathy in society has a great effect on the sense of faith of the believers living in the community of faith. Our journey of faith is different, we have a sense of sin, suffering, love and hate, wounds inflicted and conscious of the world's deception in moving us towards death: determined to seek freedom, peace, joy, holiness which is no different from others.
Our spiritual senses, in daily life, naturally go in search of what feels good, doing what is beneficial is done repeatedly and becomes second nature, a virtuous act. Helps me make the right decision in life and reinforces my intuition and makes it grow.
Isn't this what happens with those who read the Scriptures, attend the liturgy with joy, and enjoy praying alone? They will take the difficult tasks in the parish, spend time with the community, look for ways of being of service. This is because they are at peace internally and experience joy in their life.
Not all believers, however, express this sense of faith. There are those who do not go along with the expression of the faith of others and prefer to discriminate instead of empathizing."I am different from them," individuality and interest become predominant and in community, complaints become commonplace. It's not easy to accept differences whether from a feeling of superiority or inferiority.
In society, we have the explosion of conflict on the international scene instead of a desire for coexistence with dialogue and consensus. What is true in society is also found within the church community. We are a spiritual community led by the Holy Spirit if we are to be a sign of joy to the world then in our Christian communities we need to develop a spirit of sympathy and cooperation.
A mature community needs to develop and to experience this life of faith if we are to be a leaven in society. Is this not what Pope Francis wants to see in our communities, where God's people testify to the gospel and become a community of communication and fellowship and light and salt to the world?