When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he began to speak and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.Scripture Reading
Matthew 5:1-12 (NRSV)
We are gathered today on a Sunday to receive the blessing of God. Is it right to say that?
I believe, tama. Right?
As we all know, hindi recommended makipaglandian dito sa ating church, to keep this space safe. So since ekis na ang isa sa mga motivation ng mga accla, which is yung lumandi, i-assume ko na talaga na we are here today to receive the blessing of God.
So Just a quick reflection: have we ever experienced a time when we claim that we are blessed? Yung time na sobrang high, kasi blessed. We can just say: #FeelingBlessed. And then post natin sa social media. Mayro’n bang naka-experience sa inyo ng gano’n?
Mayro’n man o wala, it has been a common struggle for us queers, that people will regard us as a disgrace. In a traditional family setting, some queer kids are regarded as “malas,” and in the society, queers are regarded as abominations.
Usually, kapag may balita sa social media about LGBT, the comments section will have statements na babagyuhin daw, magkakaroon daw ng natural disasters, kasi nagagalit si Lord. (Pero aware naman sila about climate change, which are caused by irresponsible human activities towards nature.) Pero I guess, talagang mas madali sa society to blame certain groups like us.
Marami sa ating queer individuals who are affected by this kind of prejudice and misinformation na nagiging discriminated, and treated unfairly in their homes, schools and work places. Ang ending, maraming bakla – depressed, bothered, anxious, disturbed, at kung anu-ano pa.
But what if there’s actually a blueprint na puwede nating gamitin para ma-reclaim natin ang blessedness, and then uplift ourselves towards our happiness?
I present to you the beatitudes -which is from Latin “beatus” meaning “happy” or “fortunate.”
Even Gandhi, who is not a Christian approve of this. He was moved by the sermon of Jesus at the mount. Marami pang sinabi si Jesus, pero ang beatitudes ay ang introduction to his sermon.
So listen as this tells us that even a group of people like us — queers, who are afflicted people in the society are actually blessed.
So the first Beatitude: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
So when we look at ourselves, we have a sort of pride in our status. So that we can regard ourselves highly. It makes us relevant. Kung pak na pak yung title, power, or kung malaki yung sahod natin. Also specifically sa ating mga kabaklaan, we feel like, if we have a partner, we are wanted, or ‘pag maraming booking, we feel like we’re winning. That’s the kind of pride we instill ourselves. Okay naman ‘yon, when we are proud of the things we’ve become or what we’ve achieved. Ang mali is when these things make us arrogant, and we look down on others, especially on our LGBTQI+ siblings, kung mayroon tayong ganito.
The first Beatitude teaches us to be humble despite our titles, social status, and present life conditions. We must see ourselves not defined by titles, achievements, and social standing. Wag naman mag-feel haggard kung walang jowa. Or walang booking or walang high social status. Keri lang ‘yan. For with or without these titles or achievements, we are already of value in the eyes of God.
Once we realize our true value, we can then give an honest appraisal of ourselves. Acknowledging our limitations and that we are dependent on God and all good things come from God.
Second Beatitude: Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.
As the first Beatitude establish us as being poor in spirit, we are nothing despite our social status. We recognize this reality, and we mourn and are saddened by it.
The second Beatitude is not only about our own sorrows from our own realities, but also the sorrows of others. Yung unjust realities ng iba: people who are vulnerable, literally poor, and hungry. People who are discriminated against and people who are marginalized. Without mourning and afflictions in ourselves, and the things around us, we cannot muster the guts to struggle, the courage to work for the change, or the resolve to undergo the process of healing. To mourn (magluksa) is one of the signs of being human. May pakiramdam pa tayo, hindi lang para sa ating mga sarili, at sariling problema, pero pati na rin sa mga pagsubok, pait, at dusa ng ating kapwa. Kung hindi natin kayong magluksa, parang magiging out of touch na lang tayo kung ganoon.
Third Beatitude: Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.
The call to meekness is not a call to weakness, but a call to gentleness and humility. In embracing this Beatitude, we discover the strength that comes from inner calm, and the ability to resolve conflicts with grace. It’s like one of the traits that we try to establish here at Open Table MCC. We need to be warriors of justice, and we have to do it in a graceful and gentle way. Kasi, parang, ang tingin sa atin ng mga tao, as LGBT, parang bayolente. Parang “warla” sa social media. So, we can be firm and unwavering sa ating commitments, principles, at mga pinaglalaban, pero hindi sa paraang bayolente at pambu-Boogie Wonderland. We should be decisive, but dahan-dahan, and also calculated.
Fourth: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
As queers, who were recipients of injustice and discrimination in our childhood, we have innate longing for justice and righteousness to be treated with basic respect and civility, equality under the law, and given space to live like everyone else.
The fourth Beatitude encourages us to actively pursue what is right and just for ourselves and for others. By doing so, we not only satisfy our hunger but also become fulfilled, because we are contributing and participating to a more equitable world.
So anyone na “woke” diyan, you are blessed. Tama ‘yan. I’m learning from this especially kasi I consider myself “woke.” But I need to remember na hindi dapat galit na woke. So, para double blessings, kailangang maging gentle rin.
Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy. That’s the fifth Beatitude.
Sa mundo natin ngayon marked by judgment and unforgiveness, the call to mercy is a powerful reminder of our humanity. When we extend compassion and forgiveness to others, we create a ripple effect. Ripple effect. It’s a ripple effect of healing and reconciliation.
Tayong mga queer, experiencing trauma (that’s usually most of us), we are usually filled with anger towards the people who oppress us. Like me, I end up being critical to myself and set up high expectation. Pero, we should be practicing being merciful to people around us and especially to ourselves. Ang habag na ating willing ibigay or extent sa ibaay ang habag na ating tatangapin. (Hopefully.)
Pero hindi naman ito madali or mabilis. It is hard to forgive those who have hurt you, especially those who have hurt you from your childhood. Equally it is also hard to forgive ourselves, when we know we have committed a mistake or wrong decision or when we are the one who has hurt someone we love. That will take time. And we acknowledge that. Forgiveness and patience for our friends and co-workers. Forgiveness and patience sa jowa mo, kung may jowa ka. Forgiveness and patience sa MCC community. Lalo na sa ilang mga nakakalokang mga accla na pasaway, or kakaiba (like me).
While we cannot really solve everyone’s problems and traumas because none of us are psychotherapists. We must remember that as a church and as individual followers of Jesus, we have to practice mercy, compassion, kindness, and the hardest of them all: forgiving others and our own selves.
Sixth Beatitude: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.
A pure heart is one unburdened by hatred, prejudice, and negativity. The sixth Beatitude challenges us to cleanse our hearts and minds from eternalized hatred. Internalized homophobia. Internalized transphobia.
Pure heart means our motivations and intentions are not selfish or have no alterior motives. Also, pure heart is a heart that has nothing to do with falsehood. So, sa mga ginagawa ba natin today, are they motivated with genuine and honorable intentions? Is it just because you want to fit in? Sumabay sa uso? Gusto natin na marami tayong posts sa social media? Doing advocacy para magkapera, or to do networking?
We need to ask ourselves: why are we doing these things? Is it for God’s glory? When we have clear and genuine intention for the things that we do, we align ourselves with the truth of God. And since ang bait-bait mo, ang pure mo, tapos talagang pure heart ka, you will see God. (Kasi kukunin ka na niya. Joke.)
Sabi daw, Moses asked to see God’s glory. The Lord said: no man can see him and live. So maybe we can balance our intentions to ourselves, for our own betterment. Not in a greedy way. And also, to serve our community, and God’s glory.
Seventh Beatitude: blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.
The pursuit of peace is diffucult, right? A peacemaker is a person who helps others to solve a conflict and reach a peaceful solution. And they are individuals na hindi nagsha-shy away from root problems. We have to appreciate them for being brave. Kasi, with these people, they are really in a vulnerable position.
And usually, nakakita natin to in our modern day, which are activists– they are the peacemakers. We’re fighting for everyone’s rights, aiming one equitable society. However, the reality is napaka-vulnerable nila in a sense na, they are being put into a bad narrative. Some, pinagtatawanan. And worse they are killed.
Let us give our gratitude and support to our activists. Because they’re struggling for genuine peace and reconciliation, based on true forgiveness, mutual respect, and fair treatment of all based on truth.
And also, let us aim to be peacemakers to ourselves. Resolving our own conflicts and achieving our own peace can also contribute to a world with lesser conflicts.
Eighth Beatitude: Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The final Beatitude reminds us that living a life of righteousness may invite challenges and even persecution. Here at MCC, we proclaim and affirm the love of God towards the queers. We are progressive and continue to speak up for social justice issues. Kita naman sa ating pinagsasasabi every Sunday, sa social media. People will say na we are wrong. Judging us na we’re doing this kasi siyempre nagmamagaling. Feeling righteous. Pa-sosyal, nasa Annapolis, Wilshire. And that we’re just interpreting the bible to our own convenience.
Minsan nga, kapwa nating queers, may sinasabi ring hindi maganda sa atin, when we uphold and speak about our rights.
No matter how the general public sees us, we are re-affirmed by the eight Beatitudes, that these challenges are not in vain. They are an affirmation of our commitment to the principles of love, justice, and righteousness. And they ultimately lead us closer to the kingdom of heaven. (Pero huwag naman soon.)
To wrap up this sermon, I invite everyone to rejoice even if the society is looking at our efforts as false and not true to the work of Jesus. That’s fine. That’s a given. Some people are just not at that level of understanding. We need to look at the common denominator of the Beatitudes as it tells us that for us to be truly happy, we have to harness the power of humility, compassion, clarity of hearts through sincerity and peace building for ourselves and others.
Maybe all this time, you don’t really feel happy kasi you are too focused on your own self-healing. Na lahat na lang ng kulang sayo ay dapat ma-address para ma-happy ka. Kailangang magka-jowa, kailangan may latest gadgets, kailangan makapag-travel. Own this. Experienced that. Taste this. Feel that.
Yes, you deserve all these things. Pero baka hindi natin nari-realize na may mas malalim pa at makabuluhan na happiness, based on Beatitudes. Maybe we can try to take a different approach to being happy, and recognize that it’s not really just about us.
We need to take charge of ourselves. Huwag kang mapadala sa bandwagon kahit na sinasabi ng iba para maging happy. Also as per science, altruistic behaviors can release endorphins in our brain and boost happiness.
Sundin natin ang Beatitude and be a catalyst for a positive change, not only for ourselves, but to the world.
RuPaul said: if you can’t love yourself, how can you love somebody else?
Yes, challenge to look for others when we are busy focusing on ourselves, but if you can find the right balance and follow the eight Beatitudes, blessings will pour into you and I guarantee you, you will be truly happy.