“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”Scripture Reading
Matthew 10:40-42 (NRSV)
Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit. We ask for your inspiration and your guidance for today. Give your words. Speak your words. Salitain mo ang iyong mga salitang nagbibigay buhay, nagbibigay lakas, nagbibigay paghihilom, pero ang iyo ding mga salita na nagbibigay hamon sa bawa’t isa sa amin. May you speak to us today, through this unworthy and imperfect vessel of yours, speak in me, to me, and through me, your unworthy servant, so that your words of life and of the spirit may be planted upon the hearts and lives of your queer children who gathers here, and that those seeds may bare fruits, fruits of the same life and spirit. By the words that I speak, be not of my words but yours. Oh Eternal Flame. Light of God, source of life and healing. This we pray in the many holy and loving names and in Jesus Christ. We say, amen.
Ang lectionary reading today is the last portion of the Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew. Ang buong chapter is Jesus sending the apostles to go, bring the good news, the message to everyone. Tinawag niya ‘yong 12 Apostles at pinadala niya; Jesus gave them the power and authority to cast out and heal the sick. Bring the good news to everyone.
Sa dulo ng reading, nakabalik na silang lahat at sinasabi nga ni Jesus, sino man ang tumanggap sa inyo bilang propeta, they will never lose their reward.
Before the Chapter 10, may sinasabi din si Jesus na: the workers are few but the harvest is plenty.
Ang buong Chapter 10, ginagamit sa mga maraming traditional churches, mainstream churches, especially evangelical and pentecostal churches, to evangelize the world. To evangelize everyone. At baka sakaling mayro’ng ma-convert at sumali sa kanilang simbahan from the other churches.
Now that we are at the end of the Pride Month, what does it really mean kung sakaling i-a-apply natin itong Chapter 10 ng Matthew sa atin? Bilang queer Christians? What does it mean? And how is it for us to be given authority and power and then to be sent out and declare good news as queer Christians?
Paano kaya ‘yon? Kailangan ba sumakay ng bus? ‘Di naman siguro. ‘Di naman kailangang sumakay ng bus at sumigaw ng: “Mga kapatid, ang lahat ng mga bakla ay mahal ng Diyos!”
What does it mean for us to declare good news? And hindi lang good news. Remember the authority that was given is to heal and to cast out demons. What does it mean for us as queer people, followers of Jesus, to go out, declare good news, to heal and to cast out demons? Paano siya?
“Spirit of homophobia, I cast you out!”
Nakakatawa but that’s true, and that’s what has we have been doing for the last 16 years.
Masaya tayo, community tayo. But this community has been doing that somehow, bring the good news, of God’s love, God’s freedom, to queer people, to you. To you. Because once upon a time, you were not really part of this community, but came here, heard the message, became part of the community, you heard the good news.
I guess some parts, hindi man lahat, some parts have been healed. Kung hindi man lahat, and the healing continues, and the exorcism continues, the exorcism of internalized homophobia, of internalized transphobia, biphobia, misogyny, and then what does it mean to go out and do the same outside?
Kapag hindi tayo magkakasama bilang simbahan, as an individual Christian who goes to work, who goes home, who has other friends outside. How do we continue to do the mission that Jesus, the authority that was given to us, in the mission that Jesus has given us to bring the good news to others?
That is an important question, because if we say that we are Christians, we are followers of the Christ, how do we translate that, how do we embody that in terms of bringing the message of good news? And what is the good news?
Ito ‘yong sinasabi ng other churches – the “good news” – I do not totally disagree, somewhat disagree lang – so they proclaim Jesus so that they can convert people to Christianity.
That’s fine to a certain degree. But what does it really mean to proclaim Jesus? What does it really mean to proclaim “Jesus” as “good news”? Does it mean to say the literal Jesus?
But can it also mean, saying the good news even without saying the name of “Jesus”.
Is that possible? There are also situations in people’s lives where the good news does not necessarily mean having the actual word “Jesus” in it.
But Jesus is none the less there.
Is that possible? Is that something that you are already doing without he being aware of it?
Because ang sabi, “I’m here to declare good news,” sabi ni Jesus in Luke Chapter 4 – as per the prophet Isaiah.
But what is the good news of Jesus? What is the commandment of Jesus? What is the heart? Of everything that ever Jesus said and did?
“I give you this commandment, you should loved one another as I have loved you,” the night before he was to to be crucified in the gospel of John.
You will be known, makikilala kayong taga-sunod ko, if you have love for one another. And so there are many situations in life where, even if you do not even say the name of Jesus, but if you stand as a as a person who will love, who will sacrifice who will serve.
Many of my friends and seminary go, because to be a follower of Jesus is not necessary to speak the name of Jesus, but to be Jesus in times that it is required. In times that it is that we need to be there. That I need to be there. That you need to be there. And that is the true test of what it means to be a good news.
Not to say, but to BE a good news, to be the living good news. The true test of it is kahit ayaw mo, kahit masakit sa ‘yo, pero kung alam mo sa puso mo na ito ‘yong tama at dapat gawin, to show up to give to serve, even if sometimes if you ayoko na ayoko na.
And that’s what it means to go, to be sent out as a follower of Jesus.
And kaya, actually ‘yong reading na ‘yon, hindi ko rin masyadong gusto ‘yong reading when it says “reward” – “Anyone who welcome to you as a prophet or as a righteous person will never lose their reward.”
Hindi ko kokontra din si Jesus sa sinabi nya. But the point of it, may “reward”.
Pero that’s not the point of it all. The right thinking, as a follower of Jesus, may reward man o wala, kung may reward, eh ‘di salamat. Kung wala okay lang.
So the reward might not necessarily be something that YOU will benefit, or hindi siya reward, kasi pag sinabing reward ang isip palagi material wealth, blessing, and so on.
The reward might be many other things and the other things might also be that what you did what the message that you brought to one person, several people, will change their life. From a life of fear, a double life: “Straight ako! May girlfriend ako!” (Pero sasabihin niya sa boyfriend niya – Hoy! Secret lang tayo ha.) – From that life to a life that proclaims “I am proud to be gay.” and “I’m sorry to those that I have harmed. I’m sorry to those that I have harmed so that I can survive. But now I’m proud to be out. And I am still Christian.”
Maybe the reward of some of us is particularly a life that has been changed. Not necessary something that benefits us.
Tapos na ang Pride Month, at hindi natatapos ang Pride sa Pride Month. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko at nating lahat sa bawa’t isa sa lahat ng ganap nitong nakaraang Pride. Sa lahat. Hindi ko na iisa-isahin.
As again the reward is not about being mentioned. Sa lahat ng nag-contribute, nagbigay kahit pera, nagpagod. Galing pa sa malalayong lugar. Salamat.
Pero more than that is that this church, week after a week, as a small DIY Church ng mga baklang ang sakit sa ulo minsan. Salamat hindi lang sa Pride Month, but also for everyone’s effort and presence to make sure that Open Table MCC continues its collective mission to evangelize, bring the good news to change lives, hearts, minds, and histories, to remove demons from our bodies. And to bring healing. Or to offer healing.
Where the presence of God is.
Ang sinasabi ng professor ko sa New Testament, si Revelation Velunta: Emmanuel, God with us is only and always experience the warm presence of another person.
Kung iisipin niyo lahat ng mga pinagdaanan niyong mahihirap na masasakit na pinagdaanan niyo sa buhay. At minsan niyong nasabi ang presensiya ng Diyos ay nasa inyo tumulong sa inyo inihaon kayo doon.
If you think really about and remember it there was one or two persons who were always there and they were the warm bodies of what Emmanuel actually means.
And so let us, let us preach the good news. With or without the name of Jesus. Be the good news. Heal others as we heal ourselves, exorcise and be Emmanuel to one another and to many others outside this community.
To be the living presence of God in this world.