First Friday #3

Praise be to God!  I was able to make it to my third First Friday Mass, yesterday.  I almost didn’t make it, which would mean I would have to start all over.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit, I was guided to the Cathedral in Seoul.  If it wasn’t for Him, I would have went to an Anglican Church, instead.

Funny how things work out… I left my workplace at 10:00am, hoping to catch the 10:30am Mass at St. Mary & St. Nicholas.  It’s on Myongdong Road, but one of my Korean colleagues wrote down “Myeoungdong Cathedral” on a piece of paper.  So, the taxi driver took me to the Cathedral, but there was no 10:30am Mass.  Disappointed, I went back to work.

I looked up St. Mary & St. Nicholas Church, again.  Some references identified it as an Anglican Church.  So, it wouldn’t have counted, anyway.  I went back to the Myeoungdong Cathedral for the 6pm Mass.  It was in Korean — my first Mass in a foreign language.  It was beautiful.  I was humbled by the number parishioners on a Friday night.  There were a lot of young men and women.  Many of the young women even wore mantillas.  The priest was very young, late-30s at most.  Ironically, the deacon looked like he was in his mid-50s.

Praise God, I even got to do a little penance when I went home after Mass.  It took me over one hour to get home because I was lost.  It would normally take 20 minutes.  I had to walk in deeply humid weather, but praise be to the Holy Spirit, I still felt such joy!  I was happy to make it to Mass and continue on my spiritual journey.

The Old Testament Scripture on Friday was a selection from Jeremiah (26:1-9).  He prophesied that God will punish the priests, the prophets and the people because of their evil deeds.  The audience didn’t like what Jeremiah was saying, and they wanted to kill him.  This brings to mind a current event related to the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, the second largest chicken fast food chain in the U.S.  On July 16, while my family was on a plane across the Pacific Ocean, Dan Cathy confirmed to the Baptist Press that his company is against civil marriages between homosexuals.  Many civil rights activists and progressive politicians are protesting Chick-Fil-A, asking people to boycott the franchise.  Boycotting the company is far from killing the messenger, but Mr. Cathy is certainly being criticized for his moral judgment just like Jeremiah was criticized for his moral judgment against the Jewish people at the time.

Today’s responsorial (Psalm 69:8-10, 14) would help Mr. Cathy and me if I ever had the courage to stand for the morals God gave me:

Since for your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face.  I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons, because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.  But I pray to you, O Lord, for the time of your favor, O God!  In your great kindness answer me with your constant help.

I have ignored or looked the other way when others behaved immorally.  I prefer to maintain the peace and love my neighbor.  Yet, how am I loving my neighbor if I let him or her continue to wound his soul?  If Maya walks around with a hat over her eyes, isn’t it my responsibility to help her so that she doesn’t trip and hurt herself?

But what if Maya insists?  I stay close to her.  I will approach from love, respect Maya’s free will as God respects mine, but prevent her from getting hurt too badly.  When she falls, she’ll get hurt, but that will be a teaching moment.  She will know I love her because I respected her wishes, but stayed close enough to break a bad fall and comforted her from any injury.  At that moment, when she is reassured of my love, I can explain why it would be better for her not to walk around with a hat over her eyes.

Just as I would stay close to Maya, I should stay close to my neighbor who sin.  As I am there to prevent her from getting seriously hurt, so I should be there to prevent my neighbor from rejecting God forever.  As I respect Maya’s free will, so should I respect my neighbor.  Most of all, I can seek God’s help in protecting both.

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