Christmas is About Justice

ON December 20, for the 6th Simbang gabi of 2010, I had the honor of being invited to worship with and bring a message to the faithful Christians of MCC Quezon City, augmented by the good members of Bacardi.

Pastor Ceejay asked me to give a Christmas message on “Justice.”

The traffic is worse than ever this year, but it brings joy to my heart that the people are better than ever.

People ask me why I stay here. It’s not the climate. It’s not the money. It’s the people. God’s people, God’s beloved LGBT people.

May I share that Christnas message with you as my Christmas Message to you – along with a sincere prayer for you to have a blessed and merry Christmas and holidays.

Christmas is all about Justice

We are here tonight for one reason
-- and one only –
to honor Our Lord Jesus Christ,
to commemorate
the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

One time someone said to me: What’s the difference?
What’s wrong with being a Moslem?
Or a Jew or an Iglesia ni Christo? They believe good things. What’s wrong with that?

I said, nothing is wrong --
except the same thing
that would be wrong with Christmas with only a Santa Claus. I would miss
my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – no matter how much good
there would be
in those other religions,
the most important person
would be missing.

Why is the birth
of Our Lord Jesus Christ significant?
Why do we observe it every year with so much pomp and ceremony and festivity?

The CBCP (Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines) says that Christ should be the center
of the Christmas celebration –
not Santa Claus or elfs or reindeer or beautiful Christmas trees.
Make Christ the center, they say.

Oo, sige, yann. Right on!
The CBCP hit the nail on the head. Just as a religion
without Christ as the center,
without Christ as the center
loses all the luster of its other goodies.

But, why on earth
was Jesus born as one of us,
as a human person
who lived and loved
as we live and love?
Why did he become
A person with
Intellectual, bodily,
spiritual, and emotional characteristics just like we have.

Our Christian faith tells us that Jesus came into this world
to set us free.
To set us free from what?
St. Paul says, to set us free
from sin, death, and the Old Law.

The CBCP says we should
make Christ the center
of our celebration of Christ’s birth.
Ok! Sige! But does that mean
the whole obligation
is servewd by placing a doll baby
in swaddling clothes in a manger instead of a Santa Claus
on a one horse open sleigh?

But what about the real purpose of Jesus becoming one of us,
starting as a baby in swaddling clothes in a manager?
Should we not look
at His purpose?
And that, we said,
was to set us free –
free from sin, death,
and the Old Law?

Would that not be a just and proper celebration of Christmas?

Now just look at what happened two days ago in Washington DC. There was a law for almost 20 years that said gays and lesbians had to stay in the closet
if they wanted to be
in the US military.
The would-be good Christian fundamentalist homophobic bigots wanted to keep that law.
They put heavy pressure
on congress to keep that law.
But two days ago,
justice triumphed
in Washington DC in spite of the so-called
good Christians
who wanted to save the military from the gays and the lesbians. The old “don’t ask don’t tell” law
is gone
(don’t ask if a military person is gay; don’t tell if you are a LGBT military person)
with the signature
of President Obama.
Now which of these is the justice of Jesus Christ who never in his whole life showed prejudice?
The prejudice of the good Christian bigots,
or the justice
of the Congress and president
who finally overturned the law?

Will we ever see such justice
in our country?
Will our congress ever put justice above their fear of the CBCP bishops (who would use their power to get the congress member not elected
the next time around?

What law are we thinking about that screams for justice?
One is the anti-discrimination law, to reduce the discrimination against LGBT people.
Another one is the no-divorce law. Yes, the Philippines sits
as the only country in the world besides the island of Malta
which does not give its citizens
the freedom of divorce.
Is that justice?
200+ nations see it
as a human right.
One country’s bishops block it.
So far, justice has taken
a back seat to fear of the bishops.

The church which says
make Jesus the center of Christmas –
is the same church which completely violates
the justice of Jesus,
the same church which deprives its citizens decade after decade, from the days of Damaso
to the present,
deprives its citizens
of their God-given rights to human life and dignity,
as that church just clings
to their Old Laws
of NO NO NO: no masturbation, no sex except
in marriage to make a baby,
no sex ever in your whole life, never in any way,
never in any place,
never in any position
or circumstance –
if you are gay or lesbian.

The church who says keep Christ in Christmas,
instead of living and teaching
by the teachings
and example of Jesus,
instead of freeing us
from sin and death,
imposes sin
and condemns us to death
in the fires of hell.
They would declare our love sin. What’s the justice in that?
They would declare
that divorce is sin
and pressure Congress
never to allow any Filipino – Christian, Moslem , or atheist – the right to choose divorce
in their circumstances of life.
Is that justice?

They would impose the sentence of death in hell
for the natural harmless pleasure
of masturbation.
Is that justice?

They would insist that Catholic parents of many children with no ulam, no baon,
stick to that church’s demand
Is that justice?
Is that common sense?
They would likewise resist reproductive health
with the possibility of condoms
for all Filipinos.
Is that the justice of Jesus?
Is that why Jesus was born
to live and love as we live and love?

Jesus came to Bethlehem
to set us free,
Jesus said
the truth will set you free.
Jesus said, I am the truth.

My friends, The life and total lack of prejudice in the life of Jesus gives us a glimpse of the Truth. The Truth that Jesus is
sets us free
from the sin declared by the CBCP,
from the sentence of death, declared by the CBCP,
from the Old Laws
declared by the CBCP.
These old laws do not give us
the freedom that Jesus brought us. They bring slavery,
moral slavery to a list of
sexual NO No No’s
including No Condoms,
No divorce, and no same sex love.

Yes, let’s put Christ in Christmas; let’s put Christ
in the center of Christmas;
let’s put Jesus and His Truth
in the center of our lives.
Let us honor Christ at Christmas; let us honor the Christ
who is the Truth.
And the truth is
that we are
God’s beloved LGBT children
and our God sets us free to love.

But my dear friends,
we cannot just demand
that the CBCP do justice
to the message
and mission of Jesus Christ.
Is that enough?
Where is our own loyalty to the message and mission
of Jesus Christ?

We say,
THEY should allow us to love.

Do we love,
or do we seek
only our own pleasure?

Jesus Christ came to Bethlehem, yes, but he came
and lived and loved and died –
not for himself – but for others, for us, his friends.
Is the other a priority for you,
for me?
Do we want sex
just for our own pleasure?
Do we treat our partner
as a body we have used for our fun, or do we treat our partner
as a person whom we have loved?

And do I always want
to WIN every argument?
Do I always in a relationship want to get my own way?
Do I always plot –
how can I get what I want?
OR do I follow
the life and example of Jesus whom we see as one who came
not to be loved, not to be served, but to love and to serve?
When I have a disagreement with my loved one,
do I ponder how to win,
or do I do it the Jesus way,
and ponder
for my LOVED ONE?
What can I DO
How can I be like Jesus who came to set us free
from selfishness and sin?

Yes, we are here to honor Jesus, to commemorate his birth among us –
Not just with a doll baby in swaddling clothes in a crib, but with our love and justice. Maybe justice is the real meaning of “Peace on earth,
good will to all.”

God bless us all.

1 comment:

Luis Batchoy said...

Wow! Great of you to have visited my home church! Sorry I missed you I was in Jakarta. Hope you could come back! All the best!

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