– lack of interest in or concern about something: an indifferent attitude or feeling. In the ever-changing and fast-paced world of today, it becomes harder to deny that we, people, tend to become more individualistic, neither concerned with the plight of others nor interested in the well-being of the community in general. With the advent of globalization comes the cultivation of inevitable competitiveness, whether on a personal or institutional aspect, on our part who are living in an industrialized world. It becomes harder for us to keep concerned with others when the fact of survival in the den of success-hungry animals is on the line. It becomes easier, then, to just focus on surviving and thriving on one’s own and not be concerned about something else – easier to become indifferent.
Pope Francis’ message for lent hits deep in the prevailing culture of indifference in our world today. Indeed, current events and circumstances reveal that this culture of indifference may be the very root of other social crises and problems rampant in our daily lives, especially in our Christian lives. As aptly mentioned, the season of Lent is the perfect time for us to reflect and be renewed in Him, and to reintegrate and reinforce ourselves in the community in the time of grace. The Papal message enjoins us to stop, or at least not to help in, the proliferation of indifference through examining three aspects of Christian life, namely, the Church, the parishes and communities, and our individual selves.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together”
(1 Cor 12:26). As a Church, we Christians are one. Every one of us is part and parcel of the whole, the links on the chain, when one is weak the whole then becomes weak. As such, each and every one of us must receive God in grace and this can be done by experiencing the sacraments which give grace. Sacraments are sensible signs, instituted by Christ, to give grace. They are both founded in Christ for the benefit of the Church. When we accept His grace and believe in Him in faith, we all become blessed and become more like Him and until we eventually become united with Him. By receiving the blessings of the sacraments, we receive His grace which will enable us to fight indifference as He has shown and taught us. We become more concerned with our brothers and sisters and that, at the very least, is the first step in overcoming the well-entrenched global problem of indifference.
“Where is your brother?”
(Gen 4:9). The main problem in our prayer and worship is that they are often disconnected to our personal lives. They are merely done in order to observe external observance of religious conventions. The commitment and the heart are often detached from our prayer and worship. This, however, should be addressed for one way of uniting ourselves with our brothers is looking beyond what is visible. As advised by Pope Francis, we must be united in prayer not only with our brothers and sisters in the physical world but also with the Church in heaven. The saints in the heaven do not become indifferent with their brothers and sisters on earth just because they are already united in God in heaven. They continue to pray for us and our salvation, hence, we must join them in prayer that love may conquer us and help is defeat indifference. Moreover, we must not confine ourselves to what is convenient lest we become indifferent to our brothers and sisters who may be deemed different from us. We must remember that each and every one of us is brothers and sisters and that we need to look out for one another. Indeed, love will conquer all, even the prevailing culture of indifference.
“Make your hearts firm!”
(James 5:8). More than uniting in prayer with the Church on earth and heaven and helping others through charity, what is important for us is to be cognizant with the sufferings of others and accept the reality that each and every one of us has his own kind of suffering, some may be experiencing less while others may be experiencing more. Nevertheless, we must see others’ suffering not in a condescending manner but with a compassionate heart and as an inspiration to help them. Life on earth is full of uncertainties and it is only with the help of each and every one that we may overcome all the sufferings and social crises that come before us as humankind. Love for one another, instead of indifference, should be proliferated. Love, and not indifference, is what must be fostered and cultivated.
In the end, there are many factors in our lives today that make it difficult for us to avoid indifference with our neighbors. It is thus incumbent for us to remain in unity with Christ that we may always remember the purpose of living and of a Christian life. We can only experience this when we faithfully receive the grace of God through the sacraments and we keep our prayer and worship integrated with our everyday lives. Only when we make our hearts firm and full of love will we be able to fight the indifference haunting our lives.