|Bishop F.-X. Manungunvijaya|
Francis-Xavier Mangunvijaya grew up in a village near the border that separates Oglethorpia from his native Tanah Burung. Sent to a missionary school, he quickly embraced Roman Catholicism and was felt a vocation at the age of 10. He was educated at the Jesuit seminary at Dare and called to the priesthood by the age of 20.
Mangunvijaya has devoted himself to the service of the church, the empowerment of the laity, and the collegiality of bishops. Since attending an international church council in Pantocratoria, he has been increasingly at odds with some of the more conservative teachings of the Roman Church. Mangunvijaya's diocese has taken a vow of voluntary poverty and condemned the increasing gap between rich and poor at home, as well as violations of human rights in foreign countries. Most famously, Mangunvijaya was the first bishop to begin offering the performing same-sex marriages, arguing that the church has no place in the bedrooms of the nation and that the sacraments shouold be refused to none.
Mangunvijaya's homily for Gaudete Sunday
My sisters and brothers in Christ, I take as my text our second reading, penned by St. Paul to the church amongst the Philippians.
Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So, rejoice! This snow you see about you, see how it brings people together to combat the cold and the hardship? From adversity, comes community. Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say, rejoice!
Today is the only day I appear before you in these pink robes. But let’s not call them pink. Let’s call them rose. And think about a pink rose. Really think about it a moment. If you stare long enough at that rose, you will know that there is a God, a God who knows only love. For he so loved the world that he sent his Son to dwell among us. And that is Advent, that is what we are waiting for in joyful anticipation: the coming of Christ.
What a gift to us. Let us be fully present to receive this gift. Fully human, fully there in anticipation: not distracted by our worries, our anxieties, but hearing God’s call and responding to it with joy. Friends, the Church is not about rules and dogma, not at its hearts. It is about universal love, about denying gifts to no one. Especially in this time of Advent.
Listen to the words of John the Baptist in today’s Gospel reading. If you have two cloaks, John tells us, give one away to the poor. And Paul tells us, be gentle. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. Our faith is the faith of sacrificing ourselves as Christ sacrificed himself for us. Can we reach that selflessness? We can strive endlessly for it.
Our faith is one that does not tolerate poverty. it is one that calls the whole world, and rejects no one, and considers no one less than fully human. It is a faith of the gentle revolution. It is a faith that does not fall silent while there is injustice anywhere, but shouts out in joy: Rejoice! God is here, God is love, God calls us to be gentle and trust in him, with no defences.
My friends, the Church of Tanah Burung hereby renounces violence in any form. We are called to follow the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. We are called by God to be a church of peace. We also renounce wealth, the sin of greed. The Church today turns over its land for the care of the poor, retaining only its buildings. And we throw those buildings open to all who would come and pray and organize for a world free of injustice.
May the peace and blessings of God be upon you, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Namaste.