The Joy of Being
by Mario Gerada - Malta

Idolatry, when we adore something or someone other than the real, living God. Often times we fall into this trap. We also tend to fall into the trap of demanding idolatrous worship from those who follow or listen to us. Both lead to the same end: death. When a system, religious or political, becomes god, an absolute or an end in itself, it becomes an idol. This idol demands the sacrifice of an enemy - be it real or imagined, for its survival and glorification. I observed that this dynamic exists within the Roman Catholic Church’s official stance on the gay issue. Gay activists too fall into the dynamic with regard to the Catholic Church. It is the idolatrous dynamic that reigns within extreme political or religious fundamentalists and their imagined or created enemies.

Such dynamics make us lose focus. To refocus, for all of us we have the sharp and clear words: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. The second resembles it - you must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets too.” (Matthew 22: 37 – 40).

Often times, and sadly so, it feels that the meaning of being Catholic has been reduced to being nice to each other, attending Sunday mass and not having sex, unless one is married! I will not debate these Christian truths, however I would like to point towards a greater and richer Christian reality. Unfortunately, various groups and leaders portray the Church as more concerned about the domestication of ‘wild’ human beings rather than the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to these groups – sacramentalisation rather than evangelization. Such groups seem to be more concerned about their own fear, insecurities and neediness to cling to what is known rather than to step out in faith - into the living-God.

But then I read: ‘the wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ (John 3: 8). I ask myself; what went wrong with most of us Catholics? If this is the Spirit which makes us who we are – Catholics, why are we so stringent about trying to make people submit, obey and conform rather than laboring in the Creative Living Spirit of Jesus Christ? Also, why do we give so much importance to certain laws and their interpretation while ignoring others because it is convenient to do so? St. Paul is often quoted as condemning homosexuality in Romans 1: 26–27. Oddly enough though, such a condemnation is ignored in 1 Corinthians 14: 34 and in 1 Timothy 2: 12. How come? Could someone explain please? Moreover, if the argument about such a condemnation being culture-bound holds true can we not say that culture has moved on since Roman times, especially with the knowledge of psychology?

Jesus’ love brings healing, salvation, forgiveness, reconciliation - life. Are not these gifts freely and lavishly given to all sinners by Him - sinners who are Ecclesiastical authorities, sinners who are practicing Catholics, sinners who have left the Roman Catholic Church, sinners who are straight, sinners who are gay, sinners who are religious and sinners who are lay people. Why are gay sinners made to feel as though they are in a special sinful category within the Roman Catholic Church? In what way are gay sinners different to all other sinners?

In past centuries, the Roman Catholic Church may have seemed more of a hoarder, concerned about collecting human beings while dominating cultures and nations, rather than spreading the true gospel - the good news for all humanity.

The Church herself asked pardon for these past mistakes. But I ask myself, are we falling into the same age-old traps today? Have we changed and allowed the Holy Spirit to transform us? Are we spreading the good news to all of humanity? Are we laboring to spread the loving word of the living-God to all creation, or focusing on the idolatry of domination and control and the creation of ‘enemies’ again? Why is not the Catholic Church laboring to minister to the gay community, to bring the Holy Spirit to it in the love and command of Jesus Christ? On paper, the Catholic Church says that it wishes to minister to gay people. Catholic gays do not see theory reaching down into practice.

On the other hand I feel that the gay community needs to watch out too. Sometimes I am afraid that the gay community is also trapped in reactive feelings towards some attitudes of the Church. I do believe that the gay community needs to learn how to delve deeper into the riches of the Catholic faith. The Catholic faith is so much more than mere laws – about sexuality and other. It is superficial, dangerous and wrong from the gay side to stop at that level of prejudice, for we will lose the message along with the messenger. Jesus bound the message with the messenger. We cannot do away with the messenger, much as it seems the only way out. We must find ways of living the message while loving the messenger and waiting patiently.

I feel that rather than stepping out abandoning faith, gay men and women need to search further into the truths and riches of the Church. We need to learn to have a wider perspective. We need to learn how to get spiritual nourishment from the Church, even though it might be painful for both parties. What about the gay community forgiving the Church? If we truly wish to follow Jesus, we must be the first to forgive – forgive the Church for all the hurt which she causes to so many of us, intentionally or unintentionally, real or imagined. The Church seems to be going through a time where she is very much in need of such forgiveness. The gay community is in need of reconciliation with her, especially here in Malta.

Allow me to take this further. I also think that the world is so much in need of the charism of Love that gay persons have been endowed with by the Holy Spirit. We must not forget our obligation towards such a gift in our polemics. Creation needs our care, our love, our sensitivity and gentle caress and the Lord is providing for his world and his Church through the charism of love that he has given to us gays. I am afraid that sometimes gay people, on a collective level, tend to focus too much on gay issues. It is true that we need to address these, but we also need to look more around us, towards others who are also suffering, towards others who are even more marginalized than us, and who are being crushed by society. We need to let ourselves be moved by suffering Creation that humanity is crushing.

Many of us, on an individual level labor so much in these social and charitable sectors as well as in the caring professions and environmental organizations, Church organizations, NGO’s and all sorts of professions. But we do not do this as an organized body! I hope to see more LGBT organizations which, while remaining active with regards to gay issues, organize their members into working for other people too, for other marginalized groups, for environmental causes and others. I personally feel that gay men and women have so much love to give to the world, a world which is so love-starved.

I hear Jesus on the Cross say “I thirst”. This thirst is also for gay men and women, a thirst for love - love calls to love. May gay men and women start feeling loved by Jesus, the Church and society. May they carry on giving love to the world and to all humanity.

“My love lifts up his voice,

He says to me,

‘Come then, my beloved,

My lovely one, come.

For see, winter is past,

The rains are over and gone.’”

Sg 2: 10 -11

© 2006 Mario Gerada

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