Monday, February 22, 2010


In his blog, PAX VOBIS, Rev. Francisco R. Albano reminds us of how God's people have time and time again become the whipping boy of the devil when he failed with Jesus at that wily temptation in the desert.

But God's people have turned blandishments of materialism and secular contentment down to abide by Jesus' example. Indeed, as Lent is observed by Christians around the world, one is reminded of Robert Frost's "Desert Places" --- where the metaphor of nature's winter desolation cannot mean the nadir of the aspiring soul: "they cannot scare me with their empty spaces...I have it in me so much nearer home to scare myself with my own desert places."

Rev. Albano, a poet and seminary rector in the Northern Philippines, offers the source of the people's spiritual strength (the Filipino people particularly, who have been bedevilled by temptation from opportunistic leaders and corrupt systems of governance) --- the temptation of God's people must be the Final Temptation of Christ.

This blog is emboldened to publish Rev. Albano's homily --- the most optimistic and puissant testimonial (I have the good fortune to witness) to the true Church --- God's people who must trust in God's benificence and in the promise of the New Testament that shall prevail all the days of man's life.
The people shall overcome.

1st Sunday of Lent - C (2)
(Lk.4:1-14) by Rev. Francisco R. Albano

How can we not warm up to Jesus who shares with us a very personal event in his life—his threefold temptation/test/pagsubok by no less than the devil himself? And not just his temptations, but also how without compromise he vanquished the devil. Transform stones to bread he would not. Rule over the devil’s kingdoms he would not. Prove his divine Sonship to him and give a circus performance he would not. The devil left him to return some other time. But that is another story.

Since the devil failed with Jesus, he now turns his machinations on God’s people and you and me.
For our sake does Jesus share his secret that we may journey well in our personal and/or collective religious-secular ministries to build God’s kingdom on earth – a historical kingdom of transformed men and women and of catalytic communities of truth, justice and peace. Deal decisively and well with the sort of temptation I experienced, he tells us; other trials will be chicken feed. Remember, the devil comes in many disguises; but more often than not he uses his many instruments in his arsenal of goons, gold, and guns; local and foreign powers-that-be threatened by human and divine power coming forth from the deserts of developing and underdeveloped nations.

The tests come in many forms but the basic patterns are the same. Jesus’ test in the desert guides people of goodwill.

Again and again do devil and his ilk in big business, big politics, and big technocracy tempt the people: If you are truly the blessed poor, empowered by God, leftist organizations, progressive media, the ecumenical Church and non-Christian denominations, transform your rallies and protests and manifestos into food for all, jobs for all.

Again and again is Jesus pleased with the people’s answer: No proof do we owe you that we are God’s people. We care not to live by your stone-bread materialism. We claim rice and grace and a fellowship that are denied you. Besides, already our good earth produces food, and will produce more, if only you let it and us be to share with one another.

Again and again the devil shows the people kingdoms so under his rule (“the power and glory handed over to me”), and says: I will restore to you executive, legislative, judicial and military departments under my thumb, and will throw in monopolies and monopsonies, trading centers and banks for good measure, if you kneel and worship me and swing incense to my disciples.

Again and again Jesus is pleased with the people’s answer: Only God shall you adore; only his people shall you honor and respect, and their human rights shall you not violate. Besides, it is we who can and will create our own political, economic and cultural structures of care in the spirit of nationalism and international solidarity. And you shall be exorcised, as you were in history, through democratic means, from kingdoms you have usurped through loans, unequal treaties and wars of aggression.

Again and again the devil and/or his agents tempt the people: If you are truly God’s people, make us laugh and clap our hands; let all hell hear wonderful human laughter, for hell is a place without human and good clean fun. Fall from your faith and trust in God and in yourselves, and let us see if his angels or anything supernatural will raise you up from desolation, helplessness and despair, and return you back to him

Again and again Jesus is pleased with the people’s answer: You shall not have joy and good humor. These are God’s gifts to his people and shall not be taken away from them. These are proofs of divine presence in hard times and in good times.

Indeed joy and good humor are powerful weapons against the devil and his cohorts. By these gifts are they mocked and conquered. The devil is hell for his inability to laugh and enjoy the gift of life. He and his ilk are hopelessly given to mockery; hopelessly living in fear of coups, uprisings, revolution, and resurrection in Jesus.

The people’s story is spread throughout the world.

Lord, we also share with you our secret as peoples of the world, your people. We too have been tempted and continue to be tempted. By your grace we have not succumbed to the test you allowed to happen. Even as tests may come, we continue to struggle without fear for justice, peace and care for neighbor and creation. We have reached the point where the desert wasteland ends and humanness and divinity begin. To you, praise and thanksgiving!

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