The Malta Independent 7 July 2020, Tuesday

Jesus is not found in a maddening crowd

Sunday, 13 October 2019, 08:34 Last update: about 10 months ago

With reference to the recent letter ‘Jesus visits a festa’, every form of communal festa rivalry, wherever that is and whatever cloak it wears, is essentially sectarian in nature.

The Church is not the exploiter, it is itself exploited by internal or external regional interests. It is unfortunate that festa celebrations are sometimes riddled with such problems. The Church is aware of them but cannot wave a magic wand to stop them. The idolatrous manifestations happen in the streets for which the Church has no jurisdiction, and they certainly do not induce people to better Christian values.


On the contrary, religious ignorance and the limited intellectual range of ordinary lay Catholics are all rampant and worrying.

This crowd consists of fanatical, ethnic armchair, museum piece Christians who are not churchgoers and only take to the streets for the band march.

I call them cultural Christians.

The authentic followers of Jesus are not found there or around the statues but on occasions like the Community chest fund raising day or in the myriad of humanitarian missions carried out by volunteers or clericals alike sometimes at the risk of their lives.

Many true Christians are in the visible Church but just because some persons are part of the Church doesn’t, necessarily mean they are following Jesus.

For example, even Adolph Hitler tried to colour his movement but obviously he didn’t represent what Jesus stood for.

Human nature, being what it is there is the sudden subtle transformation of the profane into the sacred, when the sacred instantly becomes profane. These people are not aware of the distinction there should be between these two norms and the responsibility they carry. Old habits die hard and local tribal tradition takes the upper hand.

Action and reaction are equal and opposite.

The more you oppose these movements the more aggressive is their reaction.

Has anyone been able to stifle the local hunting and/or fireworks movements?

When the government tried to suppress the festas, instead of three day celebrations, we now have a whole week, fireworks factories are still being demanded and the hunting lobby is as strong as ever.

I prefer to call our festas a social occasion and part of our culture. The excesses are simply vain, infantile enthusiasm certainly not recommended or encouraged but simply tolerated.


John Azzopardi


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