Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Are you Happy Living in Our Country?


Writing in the Kyeongyang magazine  a woman living a farmer's life for 15 years moves to the city and writes of her experience. 

She considered herself an introvert and found it difficult in meeting people for the first time. Even when a student she would wait for others to introduce themselves. She is thankful for the welcoming she received in the different places where she spent long periods of time in her schooling for which she is very thankful— She spent not a few years in high school, college and in a foreign county not knowing anybody and was able to overcome all the awkwardness and embarrassment thanks to the welcome she received.

Although she had economic difficulties, with her strong will she was able to  overcome her personality deficiency and study theology in Europe. She had a number of reasons for doing this. As a Catholic she felt that she was also always living on the edges of society. She was a woman in the Catholic Church. It was hard to bear the fact that no matter how the world changed, in her understanding she was regarded  and defined as neither a priest nor a man. She wondered if the church was being taught that way in Europe, where the roots of Catholicism could be found.

Jesus lived among people and spoke to foreigners, men and women, different ages, classes, and even the devils, he approached all kinds of people, asked questions and answered them, entered into the lives of those he met. Jesus was met with all types of abuse, disregard, but was always concerned for those who rejected him. Is the church acting in this way in our world today? She wanted to find the answer.

She looked for the opportunity to study overseas. She would meet many other woman theologians. In her class were priests, religious, and laypeople with whom she studied, conversed and fought, no walls. And this was also seen in the Masses they attended. It took her awhile to get use to the new environment. At the Mass before communion when the priest says: "Let us offer each other the sign of peace," each to the person next to them freely and naturally shook hands and exchange greeting with smiles and laughter.

She liked the atmosphere of the Mass. They were able to exchange intimacy, welcoming, with a family like environment, it was a feeling of we that she experienced. Frequently after Mass they would meet together at the homes of the different members of the community and share a meal together. They were able to keep the necessary distances required in a community.

When she returned from her years of study, married  and settled down she had her family, neighbors and community but she was not happy. Our village, our side, our church, we draw the dividing line. It's only an invisible line, but it's not easy to cross. It becomes a wall. As she started farming in the countryside, the scope of the line widened considerably.

In the village  where she lives there are many women who have entered the farming community. Already, in rural neighborhoods often women and children are considered as nobodies. Her experience of trying to fit into a unknown environment both in Korea and in a foreign country and the good experience she had in Europe has made her sensitive to the problems of foreign nationals in Korea especially the migrant workers and foreign brides.

She went to school again to become acquainted with people who have to live in a foreign culture and the ways to help them.

The articles finishes with reflections on why we don't see migrant workers and foreign brides in church. We as church consider ourselves open to everybody being  universalist but our actions often don't follow our beliefs. She does admit this is not only true of the Catholics. Whether the person is a native or a foreigner, citizen or not, we should accept all as brothers and sisters. She concludes with the words of Pope Francis on the Word Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021. 

"Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development. A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded."

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