Sunday, December 31, 2017

Let all families be holy

I hate it when I end up crying through Sunday morning mass, and lately, it happens more often than I like. You see, God and I have what I would call a wonderful relationship. In fact, I can't get along without God. It's just that some of the people who speak for God make me cry, and that's painful, period.

Today, the last Sunday of the year, is the Feast of the Holy Family. Really, it's a liturgy that is all about love. We heard about love, respect, and honour among family members in scripture from the Book of Sirach. Paul's beautiful letter to the Colossians (3:12-21) reminded us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, to bear with one another, to forgive each other and to love. And then we heard about loving parents Mary and Joseph taking their infant son to the temple at the beginning of his faith journey. All beautiful and inspirational words!

It was the first few lines of the homily that set me off. Family values are under attack, we were told, by gay marriage and transgender activism. And the tears began to roll down my cheeks. I grew up in a Catholicism that brainwashed me against homosexuality, even as several of my Catholic friends who were gay or lesbian struggled with depression and self-loathing because our Christian culture labelled them as "disordered." It seemed to be a direct contradiction to the adage, "God does not make junk." As a young performer in a travelling show, I became friends with peers of many different backgrounds, cultures, and sexual orientations, and my friendships forced me to question the anti-queer mindset I grew up with because of my faith.

In the years since, I have realized that God loves queer people every bit as much as God loves me. Otherwise, why would God have blessed them with their different orientations? They are oriented differently not to spite the world, but because they have to be true to who they are, just as I do. And judging them helps no one.

In the last few years, I have witnessed the love and marriages of many queer friends who are being true to who God made them to be. And for the life of me, I can't see how Greg and Roy's marriage undermines anything. Karly and Inge and their two sons are as loving a family as mine. Their marriage is more loving, balanced and blessed than any of my heterosexual divorced friends' marriages ever were. And my neighbours, Leo and Markus*, are excitedly planning their wedding for September with every bit as much joy and anticipation as Lee and I did. They are a loving couple who deserve to be together for life, heart and soul. We need to remember that many marriages are about a loving unity that doesn't include procreation.

Love is love. And God is love. And since nobody I know can actually tell us the exact thoughts of this God who is love, and who clearly creates so many different forms of love, how can we speak against these other kinds of love, sexuality or gender simply because our experience is different? God is in Leo and Markus' relationship too, I'm convinced! It's full of goodness, truth and beauty,

I wish our homilist this morning had simply focused on the holy family as a model of love, and talked more about the beautiful qualities mentioned in the readings and how they feed our souls. I suspect I'm not the only person who needs to hear how every family that does its best to love one another is a holy family, even through our struggles. Perfection isn't possible, but love is, and families with trans-gendered or otherwise queer members don't need to be judged as somehow undermining family values, especially when we are all doing our best to love and support one another just as Jesus, Mary and Joseph did. God made us all holy!

God of love,
Thank you for the billions of love stories
that brought us into being,
that surround us,
sometimes challenge us,
and always sustain us.

Open our hearts to your love in its many forms.

Help us to act always
with love,
respect,
and honour
toward all members of our human family.

Clothe us
with compassion,
kindness,
humility,
meekness
and patience,
to bear with one another,
to forgive each other
and to love everyone who crosses our path.

Bless those families who struggle,
and help us to reach out to those in need
just as you reach out for us.

Bless us in this new year of 2018,
and let all families be holy
by our sharing in your love.

+Amen.

*I have used pseudonyms in place of my queer friends' names. 

2 comments:

  1. Your response made me cry Maria. Tears of joy. Relief that I, as a Christian with a Protestant upbringing, can trust that there are people like you in the Catholic faith.

    The United Church of Canada, my upbringing, passed a motion in 1988 to accept gay and lesbian ministers. And it has been up to each individual congregation to decide if they wish to become an Affirming Church, setting a further precedent in support of members who happpen to also be of the LGBTQ community.

    Years later, two to be exact my then 18-year old daughter came out to me, and I embraced her with the same love I gave her the day before. And perhaps now even more respect that she would know whom she was born to be, not as a lifestyle choice but her place in this world she was born into.

    So I thank you for your honesty and openness, for expressing what you believe from your heart and soul, in faith and love.

    Denise Hugman

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Denise. Yes, our God is inclusive in his and her love, and the sooner our churches follow God's lead in welcoming LGBTQ members, the better we will all be as a human race. The shunning of people based on their sexual orientation has gone on far too long. Your church is on the right track, and your love for your daughter helps her to be who she is on a journey not all people are willing to try to understand, though we are all called to love, period. I'm with you!

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