Churches are historical and cultural landmarks in most places. Many of them are works of art, replete with beauty and grandeur. I always make it a point to visit churches in new places I go to, specially the famous ones. This is the church in Minalin Pampanga, one of the oldest and most beautiful in the Philippines.
It is fitting and proper to honor and praise God with such works of art and beauty. It is right to express our deep awe for His divine majesty with such magnificent works. Even left alone, nature itself would still sing the glory and grandeur of God, from the forest strands to the mountain peaks, from the sands on the beach to the stars in the skies.
Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?
Nothing can be done to stop the shouting
If every tongue was still the noise would still continue
The rocks and stones themselves would start to sing:
I often wonder though what Jesus would think of all the grand structures that have been built in His name. It must have been a few centuries before the first sizable Christian church was built. But I would think He did not care much about buildings and structures. He cared what and who people were, what and whom they can become, what they can do as a community. I reflect on these words of Pope Benedict XVI:
“The rejection and crucifixion of Jesus means at the same time the end of this temple. The era of the Temple is over. A new worship is being introduced, in a Temple not built by human hands. This Temple is his body, the Risen One, who gathers peoples and unites them in the sacrament of his body and blood. He himself is the new Temple of humanity.”
Indeed, important as church buildings are, the real church founded by Christ is the Church, the community of believers He has called and gathered in His name. This Church community can exist without a Church building, as it did in the early Christian times. But the Church building cannot really be a Church without the Church community of believers. I imagine the many churches in Europe which are either being close down, being demolished or being repurposed for other uses; because of the lack of a community of believers who make up the true Church.
Today, the community of Kapampangan devotees of Our Lady of Remedies will gather in San Francisco. Uprooted from their native soil, they remain a community of believers united by their fervent devotion to the Mother of Christ. They gather in any Church that would welcome them. I join them as a member of the Church that Christ promised to be with and dwell among them till the end of days.
The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High! ~ Psalm 46
Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money-changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area,
with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers
and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his Body.