Mission of laity: Creative response to challenges

Very often the problems begin because we are so sure of certain things that we are not ready to accept any change from that. Erich Fromm, one of the most humane psychologists, has given us a beautiful definition of creativity: “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

Mission of laity: Creative response to challenges

By Joe Palathunkal
We live in hard times just as Charles Dickens wrote. We are surrounded by situations and conditions which appear to be formidable and sometimes they force us to think helpless. They are not of our making but they do try to make us into what they want. It is in this situation that Pope Francis asks to pray: “that the lay faithful may fulfill their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.”

Economic constraints and deprivation is a common reality in Asia, Africa and South America. It is a reality that lay Catholics need to face creatively. Some places cooperative societies are opened to face the challenges in various parishes. They need to be creatively managed. Catholic Credit Society of Ranchi archdiocese is a very good example that alleviated the sufferings of many tribals. They even started a grain bank and also a similar scheme for healthcare.

Many Catholics face cultural animosity because of the rising parochialism and in such a situation one has to think getting along with the common people without losing one’s own core identity. The positive elements in other cultures need to be respected and accepted as long as they are not against our own core values which we have received from Jesus and our saints and thinkers.

Within the Church you may find quite a bit of aberrations and even outright perversions from the clergy and others. We need to conscientize the erroneous zones using various communication sources, especially mass media. We have to keep in mind that the clergy is also part of a society that goes through social upheavals and look at them as part of our own.

Very often the problems begin because we are so sure of certain things that we are not ready to accept any change from that. Erich Fromm, one of the most humane psychologists, has given us a beautiful definition of creativity: “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

That is the key to creative way of facing challenges. Within the Catholic Church both the clergy and the laity suffer from this ‘certainty syndrome’ and so all the fights begin. Catholic lay people need to understand that all the priests and pastors are not bad. Think of the Catholic priests and nuns working in remote rural areas without any security and they are indeed the majority. If we look at the minority and judge, we could be wrong.

Besides, when we face challenges we need to see Jesus in front of us and watch how creatively he handled situations. Is it right to give tax to Caesar? When the cunning Pharisees asked this, pat came the reply: show me a coin and see the image on it; give to Caesar what belongs to him, and to God what belongs to God. When the woman was brought before Jesus, the people definitely thought this time Jesus was really trapped but they were in for a shock: let him throw the first stone who has not sinned.

Throughout the life of Jesus we can see how creatively he handled challenging situations. He is the ultimate example for lay Catholics to face challenges creatively.

(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)

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