The Coming of the King

On the fourth Sunday of Advent, 1511, a Dominican friar, Antonio de Montesinos, preached a sermon to the Spanish colonists in the main church of Santo Domingo. Bartolome de Las Casas was in the congregation that day, and the rest, as the say, is history.

Here’s the central portion of that sermon:

I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

In order to make your sins known to you I have mounted this pulpit, I who am the voice of Christ crying in the wilderness of this island. And therefore it behooves you to listen to me, not with indifference but with all your heart and senses. For this voice will be the strangest, the harshest and hardest, the most terrifying that you ever heard or expected to hear.

The voice declares that you are in mortal sin, and live and die therein by reason of the cruelty and tyranny that you practice on these innocent people.

Tell me, by what right or justice do you hold these Indians in such cruel and horrible slavery? By what right do you wage such detestable wars on these people who lived mildly and peacefully in their own lands, where you have consumed infinite numbers of them with unheard of murders and desolations?

Why do you so greatly oppress and fatigue them, not giving them enough to eat or caring for them when they fall ill from excessive labors, so that they die or rather are slain by you, so that you may extract and acquire gold every day?

And what care do you take that they receive religious instruction and come to know their God and creator, or that they may be baptized, hear mass, or observe holidays and Sundays?

Are they not men?

Do they not have rational souls?

Are you not bound to love them as you love yourselves?

How can you lie in such profound and lethargic slumber?

Be sure that in your present state you can no more be saved than the Moors or Turks who do not have and do not want the faith of Jesus Christ.

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  • Joe Jach

    I was thinking: yeah, a balls-out sermon such as this will surely be preached by our/the pastor this First Week of Advent Sunday!

  • Salvatore Anthony Luiso

    Thank you for sharing these words of Antonio de Montesinos. I had never heard of him or this sermon of his before.

    I have just referred to the Wikipedia article about him to learn more about him. It says:

    The initial result of the protests of the friars at Santo Domingo was an order from King Ferdinand II that Montesinos and other Dominicans who supported him should be shipped back to Spain. Ferdinand at first referred to the preaching of Montesinos as “a novel and groundless attitude” and a “dangerous opinion [that] would do much harm to all the affairs of that land.”[9] After returning to Spain, Montesinos and his companions were able to persuade the king of the righteousness of their position.

    As a result, the king convened a commission that promulgated the Laws of Burgos, the first code of ordinances to protect the indigenous people, to regulate their treatment and conversion, and to limit the demands of the Spanish colonizers upon them.[10][11][12]

    This article prompts the question: Is it possible for a preacher to deliver a sermon which is comparable to this one by Antonio de Montesinos in truth and justice? If so, what could such a sermon be about?

    My answer to the first question is yes, and the answer to the second question that comes immediately to my mind is abortion.