Fr. Kurian KollapallilIf you cannot follow the house rules find your own house.” My eyes struck on those bold letters stuck to the fridge. As she realized that I was looking at it and wondering what it meant, she said “this is needed in a family where there are growing up teenagers. They think they are smarter than their parents; but not in my house.” When parents lay out rules with teenagers, especially those above fourteen tend to be resentful, resistant, and reactive. They begin to compare with their peers and their parents and often end up with the conclusion that their parents don’t love them and care for them. If the parents are too strict the teenagers will say that the parents still consider them as small children. Most of the time the rules won’t satisfy the young people and if asked for the reason to follow the rules in the house the parents will often say “because I am your father or I am your mom, you obey.” Parents place rules before their children because they care about them and they are determined to do what is best for them. They need to be concerned about all children not just one. Common rules and regulations keep the house tidy and livable. Each one’s space is respected at the same time each one contributes for the common good. There will be order and beauty, love and concern for each other when the rules are followed and obeyed. But when one breaks the rule the other suffers and more chaos and disruptive behavior follows.

What about the church as the house of God? Do we keep the rules? Do we respect others who pray in the church? Do we forget that it is a holy place and misbehave in the church? Do we make the place dirty with our dirty shoes? Do we dress properly to be modest enough? None of your parents will let you chew gum or eat candy when you are at the dinner table, what about chewing gum in the church? Cell phone usage, going to the restroom in between, allowing the children to entertain the parents, arriving late and sneaking in between, getting out before, and trying to be an onlooker are some of the habits that go against the house rules. Some of the parents have learned these habits earlier and now it is the time for them to change and teach their children the good manners. If everyone did just like you, and you did what you ought to do, then everyone would be polite, and you would know that you are right.

What makes a Church? – Just the building or the gathering of the people once in a week? No. Instead it is the worship of God that makes a church. Worshipping God is the hallmark of the people of God. We see in the letters of St. Paul, often Christians are simply called as the Worshippers (Phil 3:3; 1Tim 2:10; Heb 12:28; Rev 13: 12-13; 14:11). Church is the House of God. It is in and through the church we come to worship God as the children of God. We hear the Word of God and the saving history and salvific acts bears fruit in our lives through the church. “Within the church we are baptized with water and fed in the Eucharist. In it we learn how to live by word and example and through varieties of ecclesiastical discipline, others help to ensure that “we walk the talk.” Through it all, within the church we come to faith and we learn the Christian discipleship.” Proper conduct and following the common rules of the church is necessary to keep the decorum of the church. What distinguishes the church from other utility buildings and multi-purpose halls is the worship carried out in the church. A true church is distinguished with the community of believers united in heart and soul, remaining faithful to the teachings of the church, brotherhood, Eucharistic celebration and prayers (Acts4:32; 2:42).

Jesus was moved with love for the House Of God (John 2: 15-17). He saw the house of God was desecrated by unnecessary trade in the name of the religion. He justified his act directing them to the psalm 69:9 which says: “I am eaten up with the zeal for your house.” It is not just outward show and fulfillment of obligation that matters, instead the interior disposition towards God whom we chose to worship. The worshipper first and foremost should realize the presence of God in him or her, to worship God who is present in the temple. “Do you not realize that you are a temple of God with the spirit of God living in you?) (1Corinthians 3:16). It’s only with the realization of God’s presence, one can offer true worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

Our intellect is ordinarily full of ideas, opinions and considerations suggested by self-love. This is the root of many conflicts within the soul, putting before us all sorts of reasons dictated by human prudence to justify our pretensions. ~ St. Francis de Sales