“Laying down weapons but saving human beings”

A street Christmas mass in Gangjeong, 2015
  • Photo by Kim Miryang/a X-mass on the street across the main gate of base construction in Gangjeong village on the night of Dec. 24

  • Photo by Oh Youngjoo/ A street Christmas mass in Seoul for Cort Cortec union workers who have been taking hunger strike sit-in in protest to the ruling conservative part representative's lie on the union.

  • Photo by Oh Youngjoo/ A street Christmas mass in Seoul for Mr. Baek Nam-Ki, a farmer in his 70s who has lost consciousness by the police water canon on Nov. 14.

  • Photo by Choi Sung-Hee/ The Gangjeong mass shown with a remembrance lantern for a Sewol ferry victim, a young high school teacher (lantern made by Joan Kim )

  • Photo by Pang Eunmi/ The x-mas mass on the street of Gangjeong, 8 to 9pm, Dec. 24. For more photos and videos, see here

  • Photo by Pang Eunmi/ For more photos and videos on Dec. 24 Christmas mass, see here

  • Photo by Choi Sung-Hee/ A Christmas mass and human chain with Bishop Kang U-Il. For more photos, see here.

  • Photo by Choi Sung-Hee/ Tony, a Catholic worker from the United States join the human chain in front of the base construction gate on Dec. 25. For more photos, see here.

  • Photo by Choi Sung-Hee/ A Christmas lunch with Bishop Kang U-Il. Toni and Martha, two Catholic workers from the United States, joined the lunch, too. For more photos, see

  • Photo by Joan Kim/ In remembrance of a dead high school student Jaeneung, a victim of Sewol ferry incident. His mother remembers him in tears near Christmas. (Lantern was made by Joan Kim)

  • Photo by Joan Kim/ Joan of Ark, chairwoman of the Gangjeong Catholic missionary center, who was hit by a base construction vehicle and hurt her foot on Dec. 2 and hospitalized since then. The letters in her foot read "Absolutely no Jeju naval base"!

  • Photo by Kim Eun-Hye/ Some do 100 bows at 7 am, Dec. 25. Joan of Ark has daily appeared in front of the gate for 100 bows till her injury on Dec. 2.

  • Photo by Kim Eun-Hye/ The base struggle hit 3114th day as of Dec. 25, 2015.

 

In his homily for the Christmas mass on the street across the base construction gate in the village, in the morning of Dec. 25, Bishop Kang told about the story of a transport ship named ‘SS Meredith Victory, a United States Merchant Marine Victory ship, a type of cargo freighter built for World War II and is best known for evacuating more than 14,000 refugees in a single mission during the Korean War.’

After the miracle of the ship’s safe arrival on a Korean Island on Christmas Day, the life of ship’s captain, LaRue, became totally changed. later, he ended his life as a Benedictine monk.

Bishop Kang reminded people that the size of ship, SS Meredith Victory, was about 7,600 ton, same with the size of a ROK Aegis Destroyer, Sejong the Great which recently entered Gangjeong. Can we use the money to save human being rather than building weapons?, he asked.

Bishop Kang’s final words were on Jesus who came to this world in the form of a small baby being totally nonviolent and disarmed.

 

Otherwise, here are Christmas Eve Message from Toni Flynn & Martha Hennessy, two Catholic workers who recently visited the village (source) :

 

Dec. 24, 2015
Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island
South Korea

 

Toni’s Christmas Eve Message


Where will the Infant Jesus be placed when He is born in Gangjeong tomorrow? Between the cracks of cement blocks hardening inside the naval base? In a tiny raft at sea, surrounded by massive battle ships?

It seems that the only appropriate place is in the arms of the faithful who sit every day in plastic chairs in front of the gate, who are repeatedly carried to the side by the police during Mass and who return over and over again to peacefully persist in blocking the entrance to the compound.

No doubt, the Infant’s only swaddling clothes will be the worn and mud crusted vestments of the priests, the raincoats of the peace activists, and the banners with words opposing war making.

Instead of Magi arriving from the East, Martha and I arrived from the U.S. in the West. We did not follow a star, we responded to your blood, your tears, and your cries of grief. We followed the echoes of your courageous voices.

We bring not gold, frankincense and myrrh, rather we bring our solidarity, our support, and our love. We represent many others who oppose war.

One day soon, our hope is that the people who build power structures and develop and use military weaponry will bow to the Angel’s Message of Peace on Earth, Good Will to All.

 

 

Martha’s Christmas Eve Message


The birth of Christ brings us forgiveness of sins and the pathway to peace, writes Abbot Gregory Polan in today’s reflection. I sit, before dawn, in this small village on an island and contemplate the huge warships docked at the newly constructed naval base. Perhaps the military men are here for some R&R on shore for Christmas.

Soon we will be at the gate, bowing down 100 times, praying for disarmament of our own selves. We are helpless, like newborn infants at risk for being crushed at any moment by such a massive war machine, a small part represented in this one particular military base. We pray desperately for God’s tender mercies. The world is in a compulsive, ghastly struggle with death, and yet we wait for the birth of the One who comes full of life and light.

Despite imprisoned union leaders charged with sedition, falling rice prices due to trade partnerships, proposed rewritten history textbooks, government labor “reform” bills, water cannon induced comas, ferry boat disasters, an opened naval base, despite all of this, there is hope. There is a groundswell of labor, civic, and farmer’s unrest demanding justice. Groups such as the Korean Catholic Farmers Association, and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions are raising their voices. We hold such painfully bright expectations in our hearts. Come quickly, oh light of salvation, bringing us your eternal joy and comfort. Save us in Your love!

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