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Sermon on the Second Sunday of Advent 2009









On the Gospel of Luke 3: 1-6


In the second year of the Obama Presidency, when Janet Brewer is the Governor of Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, congresswoman of the 2nd district, and Bob Walkup, Mayor of Tucson, during the 5th year of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, when Gerald Kicanas is the Bishop of Tucson and Msgr. Thomas Cahalane, the Pastor of this parish community for 28 years and counting and his two Associates, whose names, by the way, are not worthy of mention, the Word of God in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, came to John the Baptizer in the Sonoran desert, proclaimed in the pulpit and interpreted by a neophyte preacher whose accent is hard to understand.


It was a quick presentation of the political and Catholic landscape using Google earth, gradually zooming until I spotted the modern John the Baptizer, driving his run-down car all across Arizona, on his way actually to Tucson preaching repentance and extending pleasant invitation to OMOS Parishioners to consider attending the not- so- popular communal penance on December 20, Sunday at 7:15pm. This fellow braved the city of Tucson and directed his bold words to those who think that the coming of the Savior is all about shopping, decorations, merrymaking and parties of all sorts, all the while, quoting Isaiah,


“Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.”

The modern John the Baptizer is similar to an Evangelical preacher, dressed in white coat & tie, loud, outspoken, upfront, with a bible in his hand and a portable sound system just enough to let his voice heard, yelling repentance and calling everyone sinners, in the busy intersection of Times Square – so called crossroads of America. And yet, ignored. This fellow may be described as someone who overwhelmingly dislikes consumerism and over- indulging in food and alcohol during the holidays. He knows it’s a very difficult position to maintain but still, he puts his life on the line for such a principled stand. He, in my view, won’t be well- appreciated for preaching such a rude and offensive message. Can he say something nice, kind and loving? Well, he’s immensely sensitive to evil and is not afraid to speak right in your face that your moral practice is an abomination to God, an insult in the name of religion and a real shame to the church. He’s a rare breed, visceral, who religiously reminds his people that the spiritual climate of this generation is drifting apart. He confessed, he will not be very well liked by many but thank God, we need someone like him to lead us to salvation, in an age when only a few dares to step up and blow the whistle.

The Word of God, spoken and written, is subversive, by nature.

It came to us again at a time, when the health care reform bill is under thorough deliberation and scrutiny in the senate, few days after the President delivered his strategic plan on the Afghan War sending more troops and a possible withdrawal by 2011, when job loss reached a record high, when housing foreclosures are increasing in rapid numbers, when our valued possessions crashed and our deepest sense of self diminished, when our extravagant hopes have been dashed and huge expectations failed, when terrorism has become the most dangerous enemy in the land and provided the highest level of threat, when extremists have made use of the sacred writings to justify their actions, when it seems permissible to invade a nation as long as the good guys do it, when poverty is rampant and violence widespread, when political aspirations and personal interests are now the top priorities than public service, when the country’s economy is slowly recovering from financial collapse, when abortion is legal, when the Pope recently published the encyclical, Caritas et Veritate, as a bold response to Globalization, capitalism, environment and modern technology, when scientific revolution has undermined biblical truths, when people start to question the church’s moral teachings on the basis of secularism and personal ideologies and last but not the least, when UA beat USC for the first time in 8 years. How’s that?

As we wrestle with the words of the Prophet Isaiah and the preaching of John the Baptist, is repentance possible? Yes, only if we are willing to let every chamber of our hearts be filled, mountains and hills of pride and arrogance be made low, our crooked dealings with others be made straight, and the rough edges of our characters be made smooth. And why is it necessary? That “all people shall see the formidable presence of God.

Repentance means surrender, submission, departure, dramatic entry and arrival back to where you originally belong. It’s a springboard to seeing all things in the light of God’s glory. It’s best described as looking at every political, social, and religious issue through the lens of the divine and the sacred.

Finally, as we await for the coming of our Savior, let’s “take off the garment of sorrow, affliction, mourning, misery, hatred, greed, sloth, vanity, lust, envy and put on forever the robe of love, diligence, self-control, chastity, joy, generosity, righteousness and justice. Amen.

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A Filipino Catholic Priest, born and raised in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, eleven years in ministry and counting, currently assigned as Pastor of St. Christopher Catholic Parish, Marana, AZ.

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