Kapal Ng Mukha

Pagpasok ni Jesus sa templo ay lumapit sa kanya ang mga punong pari at ang matatandang pinuno ng bayan. Habang siya’y nagtuturo ay nagtanong sila, “Ano’ng awtoridad mo at ginagawa mo ang mga bagay na ito? At sino ang nagbigay sa iyo ng awtoridad na ito?”

Sumagot si Jesus sa kanila, “Mayroon din akong katanungan sa inyo, at kung sasagutin ninyo ay sasabihin ko sa inyo kung ano ang awtoridad ko sa paggawa ng mga bagay na ito. Saan ba nagmula ang bautismo ni Juan? Mula ba sa langit o mula sa mga tao?”

At ito’y pinagtalunan nila, “Kung sasabihin natin, ‘Mula sa langit,’ sasabihin naman niya sa atin, ‘Bakit hindi kayo naniwala sa kanya?’  Ngunit kung sasabihin natin, ‘Mula sa mga tao,’ takot naman tayo sa maraming tao, sapagkat kinikilala ng lahat na si Juan ay isang propeta.”

Kaya’t sumagot sila kay Jesus, “Hindi namin alam.” Sinabi naman niya sa kanila, “Hindi ko rin sasabihin sa inyo kung ano ang aking awtoridad sa paggawa ko ng mga bagay na ito.

“Ano sa palagay ninyo? May isang taong may dalawang anak. Lumapit siya sa una, at sinabi, ‘Anak, pumunta ka ngayon sa ubasan at magtrabaho.’ Subalit siya’y sumagot at nagsabi, ‘Ayaw ko’; ngunit pagkatapos ay nagbago ang kanyang isip at pumunta rin. Lumapit din siya sa pangalawa, at gayundin ang sinabi. ‘Pupunta po ako’, ang sabi nito, ngunit hindi naman pumunta. Alin sa dalawa ang sumunod sa kagustuhan ng kanyang ama?”

Sinabi nila, “Ang una.” Sinabi ni Jesus sa kanila, “Tinitiyak ko sa inyo, ang mga maniningil ng buwis at ang masasamang babae ay nauuna pa sa inyo sa pagpasok sa kaharian ng Diyos. Sapagkat dumating sa inyo si Juan upang ipakita ang daan ng katuwiran, gayunma’y hindi kayo naniwala sa kanya; subalit naniwala sa kanya ang mga maniningil ng buwis at ang masasamang babae. At kahit nakita ninyo ito ay hindi pa rin kayo nagbago ng pag-iisip at naniwala sa kanya.

Scripture Reading
Mateo 21:23-32 (FSV)

Sa ating pagbasa, kinukwestyon ‘yong authority ni Hesus. Ang nangyari, before siya kinuwestiyon ng mga temple priests, ito ang kanyang entry into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday, iyon ‘yong nangyari.

Pumasok siya, tapos pagdating niya sa templo, nagwala siya do’n. In-overturn niya ‘yong mga tables. Hinabol niya ng may pamalo ‘yong mga nagbebenta doon sa templo, nagbebenta ng mga pang-sacrifice saka ‘yong money changers.

After that, kinuwestiyon siya, kinumpronta siya no’ng mga pari, kasi marami do’n sa mga paring ‘yon, sila rin ‘yong may-ari ng mga negosyo rin nila ‘yong nandoon sa labas nung templo. So kinuwestiyon siya: “Anong authority ang mayro’n ka para magsalita ng ganito o gawin ang mga bagay na ito?”

Sino ba ‘tong taong ‘tong galing sa Nazareth? Ano ba yang Nazareth?

Jesus was with the common people. And not just any people, but people considered as outcasts and sinners. In this case, sa story na ‘to, tax collectors and prostituted women. Sila ang palagi niyang kasama, as he was traveling throughout Galilee, and going to Jerusalem, and indeed, no’ng pumasok siya sa Jerusalem, ang marami sa mga nag-welcome sa kaniya at kasama ng entourage niya papasok sa Jerusalem ay puro mga kilalang outcasts.

And so people of authority, religious and political authority, questioned. “Sino ba ito?Saan ba galing ang kaniyang kredibilidad? Sino ba siya para magpatawad ng mga kasalanan? Who are you to forgive sins?”

Only God can forgive sins, and forgiveness can only happen in the temple, by buying a sacrifice and having it sacrificed in the temple. So, sino ka para magpatawad ng kasalanan?

And so, this was an oddity to the learned religious leaders of his time. Lalo pa no’ng nagwala siya do’n. On top of everything else na kaniyang mga sinabi at ginawa, many of which were criticisms to the temple authorities, nagwala siya do’n.

At sabi niya, “You have made this temple as a house– this temple, which is a house of prayer, has become a den of thieves. Ang templo ng bayan ay naging koral ng mga magnanakaw.”

The majority of the religious leaders were baffled and angry, most especially when he did the overturning of tables sa temple. Kasi nga, negosyo nila ‘yon. Marami sa kanila, negosyo nila ‘yong pagbebenta ng sakripisyo.

No’ng sumikat nang sumikat na si Jesus, at by the time na pumunta na siya sa temple, ang laki na no’ng crowd na kasama niya. Mayroon siyang about five thousand people (estimate) na kasama niya.

Siyempre, ‘yong 5,000 na ‘yon, hindi lahat ‘yon kapanalig niya. ‘Yong iba do’n, mga marites, tsismosa. Some were observers, some were influencers. A few of those who followed Jesus were also doubtful and curious.

So, even the people and some of his followers were curious… Sino ba itong Jesus na ito? Bakit ganito ang mga chika niya? Totoo ba ito? Ang hirap namang pakinggan at sundan ng kanyang mga kinukuda. What kind of prophet is this man? Propeta ba ito, may sa demonyo, o baliw? Nagtatayo ba siya ng panibagong relihiyon? O kulto?

Napuno na ang ilan sa kanila, lalo na ‘yong mga pari at iskriba sa templo no’ng nagwala siya.

Saan ka ba humuhugot ng kapal ng mukha, Jesus? Ano ang authority mo para mangahas kang chumika nang ganyan at kuwestyunin din kami at ang mga negosyo namin dito sa templo?

So, similarly, when MCC started 55 years ago, a Church by and for LGBT+ people, founded by a Pentecostal pastor from an unknown southern city state, who transfered to Los Angeles, a Pentecostal pastor, who is a proud gay man.

Sino ka? Sino kayo? Sino ka ba, Troy Perry?

And the very first magazine ad he put out sa isang gay magazine, for the very first worship ng MCC, he was told by his own people: “What?! A gay Church with a gay minister?!”

There are a lot of charlatans in the gay community. Maraming scammers ang gay community. Ang daming mga charoterang bakla. Ito ang sabi sa kanya ng The Advocate – a gay magazine.

Ayaw siyang pagbilhan ng ad space doon sa magazine. Pero nakumbinsi niya later on.

And so nangyari ‘yong first ever worship ng MCC October 1968 sa Los Angeles.

So even in the LGBTQIA movement and then in the church network MCC was being questioned, ridiculed and insulted.

Troy Perry was not only a minister. He was also an activist. He organized a protest in the early days, organized a picket in front of a restaurant na naglagay ng paskil: “Faggots are not welcome.”

He would speak and protest, and many other places. Wearing his clergy collar or his vestments, and he went on a hunger strike, in front of a government building. Nag-hunger strike siya do’n for several weeks.

And then MCC churches were the fastest growing LGBT organization in major cities in the US, in the early days, in the 70’s and 80’s. They are also the only safe spaces in some cities where LGBT people can go and where LGBT organizations can conduct their meetings. And then during the AIDS crisis of the early 80’s, MCC was the only denomination that had a church-wide and nationwide ministry for people who were dying of a disease that does not have a name yet. Wala pang name, wala pang acronym na “AIDS”. The thing that was only known as “the gay disease” or “the gay cancer.”

MCC pastors went inside the rooms of the dying, to minister to them. And then later, to do the funeral services for them. 3 to 7 deaths a week. Many of which were also MCC members and MCC pastors themselves pa ang mga namatay.

There was a lot of good being done by MCC, especially in the early days. But it was difficult to overlook what it is preaching: God loves LGBT people. Their relationships are good and worthy of blessings. They can be good parents and good role models for children. LGBT people have rights in society. LGBT people can be ordained as priests and pastors, and if your church will not ordain you, MCC will.

The same question of the temple leaders to Jesus is the same question thrown at MCC, and here in the Philippines at Open Table MCC: Saan kayo kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha para sabihin ang inyong mga sinasabi? Saan kayo kumukuha ng authority to speak on behalf of god, ano ba ang credentials n’yo? Sino ba kayo at saan ba kayo galing para kuwestiyunin ang tinuturo sa kanilang malalaking simbahan? Sino ba kayo? Who do you think you are? The audacity. Eh ang bababoy n’yo. Puro kababuyan ang ginagawa n’yo. May mga members pa kayo na binabastos ang relihiyon namin! Mga masahol pa kayo sa hayop, sabi no’ng isa. Kayo ay makasalanan, you are an abomination.

When other churches ask MCC and Open Table MCC: what authority do you have? Where does it come from? Saan kayo kumukuha ng kapal ng mukha n’yo? To say that it’s okay to be gay, that God loves LGBTQIA+ Filipinos? By whose name and power do you bless queer couples?

Kung kami ay kine-question n’yo, kung saan namin kinukuha ang kapal ng mukha namin, kinu-kwestyon ko din kayo. You who proclaim in the name of God, you who claim that you know God and claim to proclaim love in God’s name. Why do you not believe and follow the words of the same Jesus and John the Baptist that you claim to proclaim?

We are doing good, and proclaiming good in the name of Jesus Christ, as Troy Perry did 55 years ago and throughout the 55 years of MCC. And we do not need any other church or pope or bishop to validate our authority.

MCC does not need the validation, the approval of any other church, any ecumenical body, any religious leader, for us to assert our authority in the name of Jesus Christ.

You do not need to get the validation of any pastor, on an individual level. You do not even need my validation. You are Christian. You are baptised by Jesus Christ, and therefore you are valid, you have the authority to proclaim God’s love.

Kaya nga napaka-radical ng priestood of all believers ng MCC. Hindi lang ordained ang puwedeng mag-communion, mag-officiate ng kasal, mag-officiate ng ibang liturgy. Even ordinary members of the church with the proper orientation lang and training of the practical parts of it ay puwedeng mag-preach, puwedeng mag-officiate, at mag-officiate, mag-consecrate ng communion.

You as a queer Christian, you do not need the validation of anyone. We do not need anybody’s validation for our sexualities, gender identities, and the ministries and advocacies that we do and proclaim in the name of Jesus Christ.

We don’t. We assert ourselves. We take up space in spaces that we are denied. We organize among ourselves. We light our own lamps where a light is needed to shine.

Sabi ni Jesus, What do you think about this (sa kanyang parable): There’s a parent na may dalawang anak. May inutos ‘yung parent at ‘yung panganay sabi gagawin niya pero later on hindi niya ginawa. And then ‘yung bunso, sinabi niya sa magulang niya, hindi niya gagawin, pero siya pala ‘yung gumawa.

Sounds familiar?

‘Yung kuya mong batugan, maagang nag-asawa. Hindi nakatapos ng pag-aaral. Siya ang favorite ng iyong tatay. (Or ng nanay. Kung sino man.)

Tapos, ikaw na beks, dahil be-beks-beks ka, hindi ka favorite. At kahit anong achievement ang na-achieve mo, parang deadma lang sila.

Tapos, pagdating ng panahon, sa ‘yo palagi lumalapit. At hindi lang lumalapit para sa kanilang magulang, inilalapit pati ang iyong batugan na kapatid.

So what do you think of this story, sabi ni Jesus. Which is the one that is better. That child who said I will do all these things, I will follow you, but ends up na hindi. Or the child na feeling mo suwail, ‘yung nagsusuot ng mga kumot-kumot, na feeling mo walang patutunguhan ang buhay pero siya ‘yong achiever. Siya ‘yung may magandang tinapos at inaasahan niyo ngayon.

So by which authority do you think comes ang kapal ng mukha namin?

So the next time that anybody, even family members, or any church, questions you, questions your gender, questions your identity, questions your Christianity because you are gay or trans, you do not need their validation.

You do not need to prove yourself to them. For every child that is born, for every Christian that has been baptized, you are already a child of God with the authority to proclaim love. And so we will continue to do that individually and as a church.

MCC has done that for 55 years and we will continue to do that until there’s no need for it.

Amen.


Open Table MCC is a church for all, including LGBT+ people. All are welcome! Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from our church community.

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