House of God or Mulitipurpose Hall?

What is a church? Some of you may be wondering whether this padre has gone nuts or crazy for asking a question which seems to have an obvious answer, but sometimes I wonder. Do we know what a church really is? Do we treat a church as what it is supposed to be? Or have some of us begun to think that the church is no different from the supermarket, shopping mall, movie theater, public park, or some other place for general public use? Have some of us started treating a place which is supposed to be sacred, into something which is profane or secular?

Over the years, I have come across many instances where some folks have treated a church in a not so nice manner (okay, if you want me to put it bluntly, in a disrespectful and in some cases, a disgusting manner). Some of you may already know what I am writing about, but for those less enlightened, allow me to elaborate further what I am yapping about:
  1. If you walk along the pews or along the aisle, you may notice, if you are observant, pieces of sweet wrappings, tissue paper, or other bits and pieces strategically placed. Sometimes, such items are so blatantly obvious and yet, we still find folks who do not seem to mind throwing such things all over the place. Surely such folks would not treat their homes as a rubbish dump or a dumping ground, so why are these folks behaving differently in church?
  2. The place the altar is located is quite a strategic place, and the priest celebrating Mass can see practically everything that is happening inside the church. I have, in a number of occasions, seen young couples getting to know each other really or extra well upstairs at the back pews. Really, if such couples want to do such things, there are other more appropriate places to do so.
  3. A seminary professor once remarked that in some churches, people have dressed as if they were going for a fashion show or for a "censored." Some have been found to dress quite revealingly (especially at weddings, though at times, such incidences have happened during a Sunday Mass), that the priest has to look away to avoid looking at certain areas. One padre even remarked that it has happened before that during Holy Communion, the Eucharist had accidentally fallen in between certain areas, and the padre dared not retrieve the Eucharist from there and asked the individual to do so, so as to avoid any unwanted consequences.
  4. The church is a place where people may be praying or reflecting, and yet we come across people who seem to have much to chat about, and sometimes in their excitement, they talk quite loudly without giving any consideration about other people.
  5. At times, I observe people reading the newspaper, or texting on their phone, or feeding their child (in some cases, the child is already quite big - big buffalo already, not small one, as a padre once quipped), even while Mass is being celebrated. Surely the news or the text message or food can wait until the Mass is concluded. If people can be quite respectful in the presence of the king or sultan or some important dignitary and not do such things indiscriminately, it baffles me why such people could be behaving differently in church. What has happened to reverence and discipline?
  6. There is a proper place for people to relieve themselves when nature calls, and yet we sometimes find parents allowing their children to do so at the drain near the church entrance or sometimes even within the church compound. Have some people become so ignorant or not bothered that any part of the world has become their water closet?
  7. The church car park is not always a big place, and sometimes the car park could become quite congested. Unfortunately, from time to time, we come across folks who think that the car park belongs to them and they can park as they please. When people park inconsiderately, other people may end up unable to move their vehicle after Mass, and as a result, tempers begin to flare and people begin to be less brotherly or sisterly to each other. At the end of the Mass, people are sent forth to "go and love and serve the Lord." Then once they are outside?
There are certainly many other examples of how the church has been treated differently from what it is supposed or meant to be, but I trust these observations are sufficient for us to think about and reflect on. Do we care and treat the church with proper respect, reverence and encourage others to do the same? Or have some of us begun to adopt a "tidak apa" or "don't care" attitude, or "it's not my problem" attitude? Aren't we supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ, and together help maintain proper discipline, proper decorum, proper reverence and proper conduct? If Jesus would not tolerate the temple being turned from a house of prayer into a robbers' den, surely shouldn't we be doing the same to our church?

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