(a priest forever)
Rev. Fr. Rommel Molina Arcilla
My Father’s House
The Gospel last Sunday spoke to us about the only incident in the life of Christ when He got so angry upon seeing those merchants and money-makers at the entrance of the temple, the church, the house of God, His Father’s house. Understandably, we cannot even raise a question why Jesus did get angry because the mere sight of those people doing business within the periphery of the House of God was an eyesore to His eyes, an act of profanity.
I remember an instance when I wrote something about the house of God, the church building, some years ago when it was desecrated by some civic activities. Well, I really felt bad when it happened. “My zeal for your house will consume me!” This was His words after driving away all those merchants.
As believers, we consider the church building to be a sacred place where we gather to meet God and accept those graces which only He can give, and which can only be found in the church. You do not find peace and tranquility in the supermarket or in the gigantic malls, but you can have all that inside the church while praying. If you have no one to talk to about your personal woes and problems, God is more than willing to listen to your story inside the church. In almost every aspect of our existence, in almost every question that we have, we can find an answer inside the church. Maybe it is not an outright solution, but deep within the heart, we go out and go home to our loved ones with a heart lighter as never before.
In our present situation, there are a lot more people who, not only profane and desecrate the church, but some others would make it a rendezvous for their illegal transactions of some drug personalities and lovers who are still minors. Some would sell medicinal plants and cures but most of these stores are selling also, under-the-counter, abortifacient pills and drugs. Churches have become a lair for snatchers and pimps. These acts are far more destructive and offensive than what happened at the temple during the time of Christ.
People would also go to the church, not really to attend the liturgical celebrations and activities, but they are so eager to be there because our churches had been used as venues for distributing relief good especially after the super typhoon last year. For me, this can be allowed because it is part of the charitable activities of the Church. But, on a hindsight, I really wonder why people find it so hard to go to the church just to pray and attend the Holy Eucharistic celebration? Has it become a burden for them to thank God for all His blessings? Alright, these pandemic times can be an excuse but we are slowly bouncing back to our normal lives simply because of God’s grace!
I remember my former seminary rector when I was studying Philosophy, the late Bishop Concordio Ma. Sarte, D.D., Bishop, then, of the Diocese of Legazpi. He told us, seminarians, in one of his many Rector’s conferences with us that, “I would rather have ten good seminarians, than to have a hundred lousy and ill-mannered seminarians.” He values much the quality over the quantity of his seminarians, which for me was a good principle. I got ordained priest, so I believe I belonged to those good seminarians after all.
Now, using the same principle, I really love to see people coming to the church especially on Sundays. I love to see them walking hand in hand as families. I love to see them dressing up to their best because it’s a date with the Lord. However, a lot more other people are simply present there because they just want to show off some new clothes or new shoes. Some are there because their girlfriend, who is a policeman’s daughter and a breeder of crazy dogs, is also coming to attend the mass. I wonder if there are still others who would only like to see and watch the handsome priest presiding at the mass, whether he is really handsome or appealing! I don’t think I still belong to this group of physically gifted priests because time has taken its toll on me already… I just wish to continue growing old!
The Father’s House is not only the edifice or the church building. It consists of you and me and each and everyone of us! We are the temples of the Holy Spirit and we are universally called to a life of sanctity and holiness. Therefore, in order to live out our calling to the sanctity of life, we all need to come to the church and meet the presence of the real Jesus and accept Him wholeheartedly in the Holy Communion. The faithful people who were gifted with the gift of faith, must come to the House of God because it is there where they are nourished and renewed in order for them to go out on their life journey in spreading the Good News of God’s love.
Our coming to the church is not only an obligation but it is more of a commitment to our Lord who always wanted us and ceaselessly invites us to have a personal relationship with Him and this relationship must be built on our love for Him and we must be committed to Him. He is our Lord and Savior and we are His lowly servants who cannot actually do and achieve anything if without Him in our lives. I really hope to see anyone reading this inside our Father’s House every Sunday.