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Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

April 17, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 10




global perspective Holy Thursday and Korean Reunification

by Sister Rita Larivee, SSA, associate publisher of NCR

North Korea and South Korea have received great attention lately. Besides the nuclear weapons dispute between North Korea and the United States, the other story, which involves both countries, is the movement for reunification.

Some call such talk a romantic dream that is far from becoming a practical reality. Others are quite hopeful. Of course, no one knows how this will turn out, but the language used to describe the situation can be seen as symbolic of the greater international community.

Koreans -- North and South -- see themselves as a common people with a 4,000-year history. But not everyone agrees on the matter of reunification. Those in favor speak of the North and South as brothers and sisters who've been separated. Those more inclined to see this as an impossibility speak in terms of the financial cost for such an undertaking, one that far exceeds the price most South Koreans would be willing to pay

All of this reminds me of the rituals that happen today in Christian churches throughout the world. On Holy Thursday we speak of being a common people who share a common history. We remind ourselves that we are here for each other as brothers and sisters and symbolically wash each other's feet and symbolically gather around a table to break and share bread.

But unfortunately, I must emphasize "symbolically" more than I would like because the full meaning of what we commemorate today often seems lost among so much that is happening in the world.

It is easy to lose hope and forget what this weekend is all about.

But when I look at Korea and those who have a dream for reunification, it reminds me of the resurrection we will celebrate two days from now. Against all odds, against all who would say it is impossible, against all who would find good reason not to have hope, there are those in Korea who believe otherwise.

They continue to remind each other of the story of who they are as one people, one nation, and one common culture.

The reunification of Korea is far from most people's thoughts these days. But those Koreans who are working toward this reality should be a reminder to the rest of us that hope doesn't have to make sense. Faith doesn't need to have clear answers. And love doesn't go away because someone puts up a barrier with patrol guards.

If Christianity is to be relevant in what may often seem like a world gone mad, it would do well to take a lesson from the Koreans who are unwilling to abandon their dream for unity. The Christian message for the world must not get lost in the rhetoric of pragmatic practicalities. Reunification is needed for the entire international community.

This is the story that Christians must tell again and again, the story that is shared by all the world's wisdom and religious tradition, that faith, hope and love must never be held hostage by those who would doubt the transformative power of what does not always seem reasonable.

Our challenge is go beyond what our minds tell us and be willing to venture forth with our hearts leading the way.

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