January 19, 2020. It was about The Naboth’s Vineyard in 1 Kings 21:1-29 and the Sunday’s Gospel according to John in 1:29-42. Full text on my homily about Naboth’s vineyard will be published on Justice Sunday, March 29, 2020.
It is quite surprising though that the story of Naboth’s Vineyard is also the story of the Lumads’ land in Mindanao and the rest of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines and maybe elsewhere.
Naboth owns the vineyard and the king, King Ahab wanted to take the vineyard from him to make it his own and deceitfully offered a better vineyard for Naboth in exchange. But Naboth did not agree to give away his piece of land because God forbids it as it was his inheritance and said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” Jezebel, the king’s wife, made it to happen, she manipulated. She vilified Naboth and accused him falsely with the hired scoundrels. Naboth was killed as a result of this scheme of Jezebel. So for all the caprices of the king, Naboth lost his land and life.
On the other hand, the Lumads – the indigenous people’s (IP’s) owns the land, their ancestral land. The capitalist, the Transnational corporations (TNC’s) wants to own the lands of the Lumads for their big businesses – for plantations, for open pit mining to supply the needs – including profits from coal-fired power energy plants, and the caprices of the first countries such as the US, including European countries. Just like Naboth, the Lumads did not agree because it’s their ancestral domain and Magbabaya (the God) will not allow it as it is for their children and their children’s children and it is for everybody, not even exclusive for the lumads.
Today’s Gospel in John 1:29-42 is about Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. When John proclaimed that Jesus is the Lamb of God he was actually announcing and prophesying, before Jesus could announce it to his apostles and disciples, that He will be killed, slaughtered like lambs to save the people from sin and bondage of slavery from the Roman Empire. The disciples of John followed Jesus the lamb. Together with the apostles that Jesus called out they formed the band of men and women – the disciples who would later announce the good news of salvation, of liberation, of the revolution that Jesus started. Later on the disciples were also slaughtered like Jesus.
As a response to the manifestation of Jesus, as the epiphany emphasizes, the early converts and disciples followed him that way, the way of the lamb upon the cross. In the midst of the situation of humankind of today and in our individual and collective situations are we ready to respond to the epiphany of the Lord? Like the early disciples are we ready to follow Jesus, the lamb? I can still remember the song and the dance performed by Bishop Santiago Azaula after each Sunday mass that goes, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.” Have we decided? Can we decide to follow Jesus?