Thursday, April 8, 2021

To Be With Those Who Are Suffering

25 Bible Verses about Suffering -

To be on the side of those suffering is always a sign of sensitivity and as a Christian our default position. A director of a research institute brings her ideas to the readers of the Catholic Times on the subject.

As you pass through the area where the capital building in Seoul is located, the cherry blossoms are flowering in all their splendor but for the writer, pain comes before the freshness of these spring days.
The day of the Sewol Ferry disaster seven years ago was Wednesday, just before the Paschal Triduum. She recalls the memory of the time when she prayed for the children in the disaster and every year around the great feast of the Lord's Resurrection, feelings of sadness come before joy. Reminding her of the words of Sewol's bereaved family: "What we fear the most is to be forgotten." It's unlikely for them to find joy in the Resurrection and spring until the Sewol fact-finding is carried out properly.
The heart is heavier this spring also filled with blood-colored news from Myanmar. The day after Myanmar's military opened fire on protesters dozens of people were killed and wounded. A senior member of the research Institute was sent pictures from friends in Myanmar, showing countless numbers of citizens kneeling in front of troops and police, bleeding. It was a terrible scene that reminded her of Gwangju in May 1980.
A senior member suggested that the research institute should respond to the decision of the Malaysian bishops in their campaign in support of Myanmar people who are resisting the coup. So he hurriedly organized an online emergency forum to listen to the reality directly from Myanmar's local activists.
Two activists from the institute were representatives of two minority religious groups in Myanmar: Catholicism and Islam. Myanmar is mostly Buddhist. She was very worried that a few religious people, who had always faced hostility and threats, would be asked to convey the situation to them but they wanted to reveal their real names and faces to the Korean community. She worried about their safety, but also that the response to the terrible reality would be blocked.
Most emergency aid and aid channels to Myanmar were blocked, and even if they tried to contact Korean priests and monks working as missioners in Myanmar to discuss specific ways of support, foreign missionaries were monitored more severely, so they were careful. There is no way to help, she felt sorry when she thought about the urgent situation while preparing for the debate.

However, local Myanmar activists and local Myanmar people who participated as debaters were very grateful to Koreans for their interest in the reality of their own country. The fact that there are witnesses who listen to their voices, watch the scenes of injustice, and support them in prayer and solidarity when there is a growing sense of silence and neglect due to international affairs and political dynamics gives them courage. She felt once again that just being by their side, listening to those who suffer, and praying together were a means of consolation and solidarity.
Sewol families and the people of Myanmar expect us to remember them and not turn a blind eye, but to speak out to those responsible so that they can behave properly.
During this Easter season after experiencing in the liturgy the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord, she is asking for God's mercy and hope for change, the least but the most important thing that she can do as a Christian.

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