by Mario Gerada
‘You will not molest or oppress aliens, for you yourselves were once aliens in Egypt. You will not ill-treat widows or orphans; if you ill-treat them in any way and they make an appeal to me for help, I shall certainly hear their appeal, my anger will be roused and I shall put you to the sword; then your own wives will be widows and your own children orphans.’
Ex 22: 20 – 26
What about people who pray?
Along the path of my own spiritual journey, I often attended meetings of Renewal of the Spirit. Each and every time I was immersed in the beauty of worship and presence of the Holy Spirit. Miracles were often present too; I have both personally witnessed and experienced them. As time went by and stepped closer, God’s providence showed me that people organizing/attending such groups are not special human beings. They are neither a superior fragment of the human species, nor spiritually superior creatures- they are simply normal human beings who have experienced God and have faith in Him. Through my own internal struggles I have also learnt that the presence of the Holy spirit is not tied to any particular ‘holy’ person either. The Holy Spirit is a Free Person who comes, on any group’s invitation, meeting in Jesus’ name! It is important that we all realize that there is nothing super-spiritual in all this. I often feel that people who try to keep an active prayer-life like myself, tend to portray prayer-life (mysticism) as more ‘spiritual’ than it actually is. In reality it is a natural and innate ability in each and every human being… a gift we all have.
Throughout my own faith-journey I have learnt that God’s lavishing of graces is not tied to us being holy, nor to our behaving like ‘good boys or girls’ either. I learnt that notwithstanding my miserable faults and sinfulness, God keeps lavishing love and graces. This is how He behaves with each and every human being, an attitude which says a lot about Him and very little about us. God, our faithful Lover wants to take care of each and every one of His children, only waiting for us to open our hearts and hands to receive. Mad and Generous in His loving ways, beyond our understanding!
Please allow me to go back to the Renewal of the Spirit meetings. I must admit that during such meetings I often fantasized about a group of wild gay men and women, transsexual, butch, camp, drag, the whole lot, gathered in the name of Jesus, praying and inviting the Holy Spirit to descend into our hearts. I almost get goose bumps visualizing it. I believe it will be an urgent running from God’s part; to descend and embrace us all, what a wild thing to do! A fantasy that is reality in other countries 1.
Do you find such fantasy too wild? Our Lady in Medjugorje in one of her messages reminds us:
Do not deceive yourselves into thinking, ‘I am good, but my brother next door is no good.’ You would be wrong. I, your Mother, love you and it is for that reason that I am warning you about this.’
Message to Mirjana, January 28, 1987
Human love, denied?: It’s not about sex, it’s about intimacy!
unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think
that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person
who has nothing to eat.
The debate about gay unions or marriages goes on and on, reconciliation between the gay community and the Catholic Church seems further away. The recent EU decision in favor of homosexual unions, ordering countries of the Union to ‘facilitate’ homosexual partners who have ‘married’ in their home countries and want to live or travel in countries where their unions are not legally recognized, creates further debate and conflict. A breeze of fresh air for us gay men and women, and a trauma for the conservatives! Those opposing such a decision, often the conservative Catholics and Christians amongst others, argue that this is an affront to Religion, but is it in reality? Is such decision really against Catholic values, or is it the Christian move in all of this debate coming from the State rather than the Church itself? Do not gay men and women have some form of rights with regards to civil life in today’s society?
For centuries, society and religion have clearly articulated that gay people are undesirable. A number of countries are still passing on this message, a message of hate expressed through violent acts including assassination, rape, torture, murder and public executions 2. Thanks to psychology, sociology and other social sciences, Western Society has moved away from this position, but still has a long way to go. The Roman Catholic Church also refuses to look and listen to such scientific research where it comes to the LGBT community! Ironically it conveniently relies on such measures when it comes to admitting new priests, monks and nuns! I find such contradiction perplexing!
Why is the Church scandalized that civil society is giving civil rights to its gay men and women citizens? Aren’t gay men and women contributing to society like all the rest? Why all this effort to alienate civil society and Catholics/Christians of good will to look seriously and professionally into such issues and to find concrete, life giving solutions to both gay couples and society at large?
The Church’s argument that gay marriages are sterile does not hold. With that same argument, religious men and women are a waste too, as they too are sterile with regards to procreation! The value of sublimation which holds for religious people can hold for gay couples too! Doesn’t love always produce fruit? Don’t we believe that where there is love, there is Christ? So can’t gay couples produce a different kind of fruit, a fruit that is born out of gay love?
Moreover, if a homosexual household is such an abomination, why force religious people into ‘homosexual’ households themselves? Are not religious monasteries communities of same-sex people? It is true that the dynamic of such communities is different to that of a gay couple. However both have the underlying principle of love, love towards those of one’s own sex, living together in one community. I believe it is not difficult for the Church to offer same-sex couples a Christian way of living.
Therefore at this stage we need to ask ourselves: ‘can a gay household be Catholic/Christian?’ and ‘can a gay household be structured on the values of Christian love, intimacy, companionship, faithfulness and prayer?’ Gay couples like other couples, struggle to construct their love-relationships on Christian values such as commitment, faithfulness and self-sacrifice for the love of the other. They too need help in this. If a married couple represent the espousal of Christ to the Universal Church, can’t gay unions represent Christ’s individual espousal to religious people amongst them heterosexual priests, monks and nuns? Isn’t Jesus Christ a human being too? Isn’t He a man too? Isn’t He also marrying each and every religious person/consecrated lay person- heterosexual man, heterosexual woman, homosexual man, homosexual women, etc.?
What about free will?
Yahweh says this: Act uprightly and justly; rescue from the hands of the oppressor anyone who has been wronged, do not exploit or ill-treat the stranger, the orphan, the widow; shed no innocent blood in this place. For if you are scrupulous in obeying this command, then kings occupying the throne of David will continue to make their entry through the gates of this place riding in chariots or on horseback, they, their officials and their people. But if you do not listen to these words, then I swear by myself, Yahweh declares, this place shall become a ruin!
Jeremiah 22: 3 - 5
Like many others, I have often been confronted with the values of chastity, poverty and obedience… especially obedience☺. We often hear that Christ himself embraced these. He obeyed His Father’s will, to His death on the cross. These values are imposed on gay men and women, in a particular way the value of chastity as a natural consequence to ‘one’s own intrinsically disordered sexual orientation’, ‘strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil’, ‘an objectively disordered inclination’!
Christians/Catholics unfortunately speak too little about Free Will and too much about the rest! It is true that chastity, obedience and poverty are Christian values that lead us to the summits of love, however shouldn’t these be chosen OUT OF ONE’S OWN FREE WILL? Christ Himself died on the cross in obedience towards the Father, a death that was a choice that came out of HIS OWN FREE WILL! The Holy trinity never impose themselves upon us, never force us into anything. They only invite us, like Our Lady in Medjugorje reminds us through her messages and behaviour. Love itself is a gift, emerging out of free will. Heaven’s love invites us, never forces itself. God Himself honors our own free will – His gift to us. He himself invites, waits, accepts our decisions, notwithstanding the pain that some of these cause Him.
It’s a pity that so many Roman Catholics and Christians alike, tend to forget this basic principle underlying all other Christian values. Pity that often our teachings and our conversations violate other people’s privacy, intimacy and Freedom of Will, hence the repulsion of many towards us Catholics and Christians! If we truly study and experience God, we learn that He never imposes Himself upon us, and this is a fundamental Christian principle! He never violates this principle! Thus the need for the commandments! Aren’t they about teaching us to love one another and trying to stop us from violating and abusing each other?
‘No foreigner adhering to Yahweh should say, ‘Yahweh will utterly exclude me from his people.’ No eunuch should say, ‘Look, I am a dried-up tree.’
Is 56: 3
In Christian discourse and sermons I also often hear of sin. When gay men or women are mentioned I often hear of homosexual sex, often as if it is the ultimate sinful activity. I notice that often during sermons personal sin is usually mentioned. Very rarely do I hear someone talk of structural sin; structural sin found within the ecclesiastical folds, structural sin found in our societies. Who speaks about these sins? Sins that make other civilizations poor, sins triggering national and international conflict and suffering? Why do we select sins that are generally sexual ones, whilst we rarely mention other ‘societal’ sins, such as those related to the exploitation of other societies to maintain an unfair distribution of wealth for our own benefit?
Unfortunately I notice that many Christian and Catholic people tend to have a simplistic understanding of Jesus and the world. I also notice that many have a short-sited view of the world and society. Many often blame or judge individuals whilst ignoring the complex and larger reality individuals inhabit. I wonder how much of all this comes from God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit! I wonder how much of this stems from own need and desire for power, to control, to dominate the world, each other and God.
“When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt. Among you this is not to happen. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”
Mt 20: 24-28
“So the Pharisees and scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?’ He answered, ‘How rightly Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites in the passage of scripture:
This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. Their reverence of me is worthless; the lessons they teach are nothing but human commandments.
You put aside the commandment of God to observe human traditions.’ And he said to them, ‘How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God, in order to preserve your own tradition!’
Mk 7: 5-9
“I give you a new commandment:
love one another;
you must love one another
just as I have loved you.
It is by your love for one another,
that everyone will recognize you
as my disciples…
Jn 13: 34-35
…In my Father’s house
there are many places to live in;
otherwise I would have told you.’
Jn 13: 2
© 2009 Mario Gerada
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