• excerpts •
“Be tough. The last few years have seen many positive steps for LGBT Catholics. And there are two big trends. The first can be summarized by two words: “Pope Francis.” His five most famous words are still, “Who am I to judge?,” which was first a response to the question of gay priests and then expanded to LGBT people. Francis is the first pope ever to use the word “gay.” He has LGBT friends. And he’s appointed many LGBT-supportive cardinals, archbishops and bishops. Another trend is that as more and more Catholics are coming out and being open about their gender identity, they and their families are bringing their hopes and desires into their parishes, and slowly the culture of the church is being changed.”
“Jesus is free from the need to be loved, liked or approved of. He is free from the need to be loved by the Samaritans. He is free of the need to be liked by the disciples, as when he rebukes James and John. And he is free of the need to be approved of by his family, who early on think he’s crazy. He is supremely free. And what is he free to do? To follow the Father’s will.
Many people in the LGBT community feel unwelcome, like Jesus felt, as well as excluded, rejected and sometimes, as Jesus was, persecuted. It can be painful and enraging. And it’s okay to feel those things. It’s human and it’s natural, and sometimes those feelings should stir you to action on behalf of people and groups who are being persecuted! But, ultimately, Jesus asks us to be free of the need to be loved, liked or approved of. And to be confident in who you are.
Notice that Jesus is also free of the need to punish. James and John wanted to “call down fire from heaven” to destroy the Samaritans who rejected Jesus. But Jesus “rebukes” his disciples for this. That’s not his way. He is free of the need for revenge. So be like Jesus. Be free.
Finally, be hopeful. The life of Christian discipleship is not simply a hard row to plow, it’s not simply tough, it’s not simply a chore. As St. Paul says in today’s reading, “For freedom Christ set us free.” Isn’t that beautiful? The Christian life is not some terribly burden or “yoke” as St. Paul says, echoing the plow imagery of Jesus. No, it’s an invitation to live in freedom. Just as Elijah covered Elisha with his cloak, so all of us, LGBT or straight, who accept Jesus’s invitation are wrapped under what the theologian Barbara Reid calls the “protective cloak of his spirit.” We live in freedom. And in joy!
And in hope too!”
“These readings, so ancient, so different, so seemingly far away, are actually tailor made for us today, during Pride Weekend for all of us who are called to encounter God. In these readings we hear God say to us: Be tough, be free, be hopeful. Be proud to be Catholic. And for my LGBT brothers and sister and siblings, be the LGBT Catholic whom you are called to be by Jesus Christ himself.”
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