The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Gil Alejandria SVD — Catholic Trade Manila
Memorial of the Dedication of Saints Peter and Paul Basilica
Photo: Cross at the Centre Theresianum de Kinshasa, Congo
Before the pandemic shut us in, I celebrated mass at SM San Lazaro every fourth Sunday of the month. It was a celebration with all the trimmings: choir, altar servers, lay ministers from the nearby Parish of Espiritu Santo, and the staff of the mall doing the readings and making sure the altar and sound system were set up properly.
The mass was celebrated before the mall opens so there are no distractions of people walking around. Many people attend, finding the celebration solemn enough, and they find it very convenient to start the day with spiritualnourishment before they do their shopping and other mall business.
The Gospel today showed Jesus lamenting that the temple, the house of prayer, has been transformed into something else, like a marketplace.
Today’s market places, like malls, following the trend of celebrating masses outside a church setting, have even converted areas inside the building into places of worship and prayer. This can be seen as part of the modern way of evangelizing: bringing the Word of God to where people are.
Some may frown at these developments, perhaps thinking that the solemnity of the sacrifice of the mass is being lessened when held at profane places. I would see it as part of the different ways where we can encounter God’s presence.
In Mindoro, I have celebrated masses in simple makeshift shelters when I visit remote barangays. In the slums of Manila, masses are held in street alleys and basketball courts.
It is reflective of the missionary nature of the Church – that we go out to where the people are to bring the Word of God. We bring the presence of God anywhere we can to transform the world into God’s house of prayer.