it was tito gerry who first expressed his opinion about the priest on tv.
“take note of what that priest says. it’s redundant. they just do a re-hash of the old preaching from the bible and add some modern day drama to it.” tito said after having his first serving of pasta.
the priest of the sunday tv mass from the philippines continued to preach with his sing-song voice in the background.
“see how those guys influenced their league of followers? most pastors and priests i know are rich!” narrated my father while eating his pasta for breakfast.
“there’s this instance when i saw the pastor on tv asking his audience to wave their white envelopes for their tithes or whatever donations.”
“one dollar from each of you”, the pastor said, “...could go a long way!” said the pastor according to my father.
i just finished eating my second slice of pizza when the priest on tv started to speak in a more commanding tone, that could silence the wandering mind of the audience.
“even the president have to set an appointment with mr velarde! just imagine how powerful is that guy! mind you, the psg (philippine security group) cannot easily infiltrate his base.” said my father.
he then continued telling the story of a certain pastor that he met in davao who bragged about the helicopter given by one of his followers. as my father continued, he said that the pastor never ceased to tell his audience that he is the chosen one of god, that he has the ultimate power, that he should be followed.
a general from the military cracked a joked during one of the prayer meetings of this pastor by saying “if he was the chosen one of god, then i am god’s chosen friend for him!”
i told my father and tito gerry about my adolescent plans to become a priest. see, the priests and the monsignor from our school are all rich and cool. they got the cars, the babes and the moolah! add to that their power and influence over their territory and society.
“pa, why don’t you try to become a pastor!” i joked after i placed my pasta meal on my plate.
“and why me?!” he said.
“well, we can be rich, you have your way with people and our lives can get better!”
he replied with a wild laugh and finished the last piece of his meal.
then i remembered the line, faith over religion.
from the television, a small boy sings only hope as the background music to the communion rites of the mass.