Posted by my professor Manny de Guzman at Maryhill School of Theology:
"Sharing this reflections from my wall, with Tony's painting. - CHILDREN OF THE VOICE… It’s Pentecost Sunday, known popularly for the symbol of the tongues of fire for the Holy Spirit descending upon the community of disciples. Today I chose another symbol and another personage to speak of the birthing of the prophetic Christian movement…
"I’m wrapping up the academic year with defenses of final integration projects by student-groups. About 210 students sat in my classes this entire year: male, female; lay people, seminarians, priests, consecrated persons; in various ministries in the church and professions in civil society. Colleagues have been asking me if there are differences among the students in the different schools where I taught. I avoid directly answering them because of the diversity of course I directed and the range of number of students per class, from 10 to 49. I also respect the theological orientations or thrusts of the schools, and indeed there are differences, yet I try to be creative and productive in the spaces given to me as a laboratory for new landscapes and new sights. Some will say, 'It’s the school you choose' that matters. Maybe so. But the schools are as good as the teachers in the classrooms. There are teachers like me who teach across different schools and they bear their own disciplines as much as they leave their marks of theological personality and style which they impart to students.
"The mural below is a triptych of 'John the Baptist' painted by Tony Perez, a Filipino visual artist, lyricist, novelist, playwright, editor, clinical therapist, psychic trainer, and an alumnus of Maryhill School of Theology (M.A. Religious Studies). Measuring 5 feet x 12 feet, it hangs in the inner study room of the MST library. Whenever I sit and face the triptych, while preparing for my classes, reading books or papers of students, I find it as a constant reminder that we all are John the Baptist.
"We teachers are in the same boat as John the Baptist, whose role is to prepare the way for a deeper encounter with the Messiah. We do not make any miracles or exorcisms but hopefully like John teachers will be remembered for being the voice in the wilderness. That makes teachers examples for students to follow, that everyone’s calling has dignity to it and God seems to know better than we do and God seems to know better than what is in us (J. Green).
"Teachers of theology, again as John was, are a contrast-people to the world’s preferences. His voice in the wilderness is the voice that co-missioned him to prophesy against the ills of the world and announce the coming of a radically different world. John refused to be silent and it can be said that the prophetic Christian movement began with him: 'In his recorded teaching to the people there is not a word about the customary ritual of religion, about increased Sabbath observance, about stricter washings and sacrifices, or the ordinary exercises of piety. He spoke only of repentance, of ceasing from wrongdoing. He hailed the professional exponents of religion who came to hear him, as a brood of snakes wriggling away from the flames of the judgment. ... The way to prepare for the Messianic era and to escape the wrath of the Messiah was to institute a brotherly [and sisterly] life and to equalize social inequalities' (W. Rauschenbusch). As teachers we don’t teach just knowledge but a vision of life and a mission in the world. Jesus heard also a voice, The Voice. It is He who embodied the voice in actions through what he called the reign-of-God-already-in-our-midst.
"We are all the 'daughter of a sound' ('bat kol', בּת קול; 'kol' literally means 'echo' or 'whisper' but used in biblical sense it is 'divine voice'). Teachers could not have been using their voices if they didn’t hear and listen also to the voice within them and in the world around them, speaking of their vocation and mission. John and us, theology teachers, are path-breakers, path-makers, path-seekers. May all our students become voices of the voiceless in a divided and wounded world and trek the path of peace and justice no matter how dusty, winding, and precarious.