In line with the tradition of the last four years since Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) was being established, each memorial event was showered with rain. As in the past, it rained heavily the night before , stopped for the event, only to resume soon after it. This was what happened on the 29th September, 2014 when the CDM in Penang celebrated it’s first anniversary as an established parish and the fourth year of its dedication.
At the beginning of mass, Fr. Martin Arlando, asked the parishioners to wish each other a Happy Anniversary. In his homily, Fr. Martin remarked that God does not dwell in any structure made by human hands but in the people who dwelling in the building. He explained this by relating a story of the king of Sparta showing off his fine city to a royal visitor. When the visitor observed that there were no walls around the city to protect his city, the king pointed to his loyal bodyguards and said that those were his walls. Similarly, God is made present in the church through Jesus Christ. The building is sacred only because the people of God are present there.
Fr then recalled the significant events that had occurred over the last four years in the building of CDM and its establishment as a parish. When the church was first opened holy water was sprinkled. This is also what happens to us during baptism. As the walls of the church were cleansed, so it is with us when we trace the sign of the cross over ourselves. We ask that our hearts be cleansed as we enter the church in which Christ dwells. We wish to be transformed by grace by sharing the Word of God at mass.
After the proclamation of the church, the altar is anointed and also 12 areas in the church. We are also anointed around the table of Jesus Christ as sons and daughters of God. The relic of St Jeanne Jugan was inserted, incense given up and candles were lit. Similarly, we are called to be the light of the church and go forth and live our faith. To share this celebration of the Eucharist as we recognize this sacred place where we offer ourselves to God’s service. When we receive Holy Communion we become one body with Christ and in faith with one another. Fr Martin the questioned if we were being faithful to God. He then related an incident when a Hindu student once visited a church and remarked how magnificent a building it was. However, he was astonished when he was told it was barely used and mostly on Sundays for weekly masses. He remarked that his Hindu temple was used at least twice daily for prayers. He then added that how could anyone expect others to worship their Christian God when they pray more often to their own god. Fr. Martin then explained that this was the reason why everyone was encouraged to come for daily mass which takes just 30 minutes.
Fr also said that the house of God must also be the house of people. The church is a sacred place for people to encounter God, as it is a special place for the people of God. Fr reminded us that we have been called, chosen and sent to share our lives and experiences with others. To be this living testimony of Jesus to our BECs and the rest of the community of CDM.
At the end of mass, a cake was brought in to celebrated the first anniversary of CDM as a parish and Fr. Martin’s first year as the parish priest. All parishioners were then invited for a potbless at St. Faustina Hall after mass.
Dr. Ivan Filmer Jr
4th October, 2014.