Seoul (AsiaNews) - Reconciliation on the Korean peninsula "can only come via the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace. That is why we must live as true Christians, applying at all levels Christ's teachings. The same applies to our governments, which must start with family reunifications between North and South if they want to avoid new conflicts," said Mgr Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul, in a message issued to the faithful for the upcoming feast day of the Assumption.
For Korea and the Korean Church, 15 August is a special day. In addition to the Assumption of Mary in Heaven, Koreans celebrate the end of Japanese imperialism and World War II. Korean Catholics have always interpreted this liberation as a gift from the Virgin, and celebrated it with particular veneration.
In the capital, the archbishop has had two big South Korean flags placed on either side of the altar (pictured) to symbolise the nation's reverence towards peace, which was won through Mary's intercession.
The full text of the archbishop's message follows. It will be read in Seoul's Myeong-dong Cathedral during the solemn Mass on 15 August.
My dearest brothers and sisters!
May God's blessings and peace be upon you all!
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is the day when Mary, the Mother of God, ended her life journey on earth and was assumed into Heaven. For us Christians, the Assumption of Mary is an important event of special meaning: It confirms for us the hope of eternal life. The Church has also emphasized that, "by her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home" (Lumen Gentium 62).
While we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, the Queen of Peace, we should also devote ourselves to the real peace for all mankind. Jesus gave peace to his disciples as a gift before he was taken away by the sinners. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John, 14:27) We can say that being a Christian is to live a life of pursuing peace, and to be the disciple of Jesus who is sent for peace on Earth.
In his encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Bless John XXIII emphasized that "Peace on Earth-which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after-can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order in truth, justice, charity, and freedom." Paul the Apostle also testified that, "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility." (Ephesians, 2:14) Real peace begins when people restore their love and trust in each other; it begins when we play the role to realize truth and justice.
However, what is our situation now? 60 years has passed since the Korean War had ended, the Korean Peninsula is still facing division and serious conflict between North and South Korea. The reconciliation of North and South Korea is not only a matter of the Peninsula but also the way to world peace. That is why we should put away the unfortunate past and aim toward a bright future of hope.
Because of the division of North and South Korea, too many people have died and countless families are separated. There are no words to describe the anguish feelings of living without knowing whether your families are alive or dead. I would like to request to the Korean government to begin with solving the most urgent and present problems that would finally led to the achievement of reconciliation: the confirmation of survival of separated family members from North and South Korea, arrangements of letter exchanges and meetings. I pray that more sagacious policies such as humanity assistance and conversations will be enforced until the day when North and South Korea can open up hearts to each other.
For us Christians, the first thing we should do is to pray. Prayers help us to pay attention to the word of God, and help us to become the instrument of his peace. When we are able to put away all divisions and hatred, we will be able to begin a bright future of love and peace. When human respect, truth, and freedom is fully practiced in the Korean Peninsula, the day of peace shall come faster to us.
We earnestly pray to the Holy Mother to be our guidance, and may the Lord bless us every day in our lives.