A few weeks ago I was walking into Malate Church car park and just in front of me was a young street girl, barefoot and a bit messy. Just then from inside the church another young girl came out, in her father’s arms dressed like a princess. There was a wedding on, maybe she was a flower girl. I wondered just how different their lives were likely to be. For one there would be school, college ,a comfortable home and perhaps her own wedding one day ; for the other a less certain future, no school, no home, and as Malate is a notorious red light area, the best scenario was that she might become a vendor or beggar. And at worst, fall victim to the pimps or pedophiles. Whilst there is suffering in every life, it did seem that the dice were loaded from the beginning.
Later as I came out I saw her again, standing by the outside wall of the church weeping, her hands cupped over her eyes. Somehow even without any religious instruction, everybody knows where to go to cry don't they ? I could easily imagine her guardian angel collecting those tears and whisking them up to the throne of God. He is really for the poor.
Later, in the car park as the wedding crowds dispersed she was begging for coins from the wealthy guests as they got into their cars to go to the reception and eat but she received nothing at all from them. Whatever celebration of love took place inside the church, compassion didn't quite make it as far as the car park.
Here of course the church is very much mainstream, rather than persecuted it has found respectability, and so its members enjoy the benefits, a symbiotic relationship between the church and people. But where’s the love ? I wonder how perilously close we are to the state of the scribes and Pharisees, little more than white washed tombs, appearing righteous on the outside but empty and dead inside.
Coincidently the building is in the process of receiving a P15 million Peso renovation, putting a new coating on the outside of the ancient building, making it look even more attractive, it looks a lot like white-wash too !