Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Onward to Jerusalem
Today, as typhoon “Feria” lashes Occidental Mindoro, we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Luke tells us the angel Gabriel announced his birth to his father Zechariah and gave him the name John, which means ‘God is gracious.’ Even while still in his mother’s womb he recognized the presence of Jesus by leaping when Mary visited Elizabeth. It is a reminder to us of the sacredness of life in the womb. He left his parents to live in the desert the life of a prophet. He preached in the desert dressed like an Old Testament prophet wearing a garment of camel-skin and eating locusts and wild honey (Mark 1:6; Matt 3:4). He lived and preached, as I have said, in the desert.
The word “desert” reminded me of an e-mail I forwarded to Mr. Dino Carnay, the London-based Moderator of the Divine Word College of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro e-mail group in the internet. Mr. Carnay received an anonymous e-mail presumably from a supporter (maybe a lapdog) of a top political honcho of said municipality. Some group members had been airing their sentiments on poor road condition including heaps of other social disorders in the province particularly in San Jose. They are constantly calling the attention of our local officials on the matter. And instead what Dino got is a subjective hate letter. I copy-pasted below the letter I forwarded to him and the group:
As a Christian, I dream of individual members of the community (virtual community like this one) who are alive and life-giving, free and freeing, responsive and responsible, and loving and lovable. That is why I participate in some discussions of this group. And though I am not a true-blooded Diviner (I dropped and transferred to OMNC in the 80s), I am proud to be part of this community.
Alive and life-giving. It is not enough that one can do his/her daily chores and live a “normal”, worry-free or “apolitical” life. We have to be alive not only to one pertaining only to bodily functions but by being aware of what is happening in our every life-situation and also knows what is happening around us, around our immediate areas. We also need to know why it is happening to us.
Free and willing. We, I presume as members of this group, are free members who do not only possesses freedom but are themselves instruments of freedom. We envision a free community that the members are not judged by his/her social status or the amount of taxes he/she contribute for the municipality. Or his/her physical presence in his hometown or province.
Responsive and responsible. We in this group are responsive persons who respond to the call of public service including the very basic rights to information. We are not only aware of the problems around us but we try to be a part of the solution to those problems. We have to participate but we must do it not in an irresponsible manner. Our attacks must not be personal.
Loving and lovable. Let us be serious in all of our efforts to love our neighbors and even our enemies. A true lover open himself/herself to the one he like or he dislike. He/she is a warrior who do not hide his/her identity. A lover is not coward for the warrior within him/her makes him/her brave. And that makes him/her even more lovable.
I also envision public servants (i.e. politicians, their staunch supporters, employees, relatives, etc.) who speak and listen, discerns and decide together with the people in implementing their decisions, pray and celebrate their joys and sorrows together and honestly look at what they had done and failed to do.
Concretely, this is what I dream for my hometown, my beloved San Jose: A place where wealth is used for sharing, power is exercised for service and values which create oneness or solidarity.
Actually, the themes are attributable to a fellow Occidental Mindoro citizen, Dr. Henry L. Bernardo, a former seminarian and now professor of Religious Education at the Dela Salle University-Dasmarinas in his book “Responding to the Call of Justice and Love”(p. 2).
My parting my words for Mr. Carnay :”Those criticisms are just proof that this “congregation” you have started is not established in a barren desert but already trooping toward social “Jerusalem” of our times!”
St. John the Baptist’s ministry resembled that of the prophets and we could say that of the Church, in that he disturbed the comfortable and comforted the disturbed. We see him disturbing the comfortable when he said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming retribution? Produce fruit in keeping with your repentance and do not presume to tell yourselves we have Abraham as our father.” His message obviously disturbed people so some of the powerful did repent, including tax collectors and soldiers…