Nehemiah continued, “Go now and enjoy rich food and sweet wine, and be certain that you send a share to those who cannot provide for themselves, for this day is holy to Our God. Let no one be sad, for Our God’s joy is your strength.”
From the 2011 film “Circumstance”
Nehemiah and the returned exiles to Jerusalem are celebrating. They are celebrating a resettlement of the land their grandparents and parents had been forcefully evicted from. They are celebrating that the presence of God, which had been with them in exile, is also with them in the resettlement. They are celebrating with joy not because of what they have, but because of whom they worship.
We, who are queer and allies, need to take note of this scene. “God’s joy is your strength,” proclaims Nehemiah to those huddled in the ruins of what was once a great city. Often when life is either less than expected or overwhelmed by the ruins of hopes and expectations unmet joy tends to slip away from us. We allow our surroundings to shape our inner being as oppose to allowing our inner resources to shape our environment.
Nehemiah calls us to heed the very core of our being – the great Heart of the Universe beating within our own hearts. Openly and wonderfully the Sacred trips over the divine-Self just to say, “I love you.” Here within this intimate relationship with the Holy lies the only sustained source of joy. Since it ignites from within we can easily miss it by looking without. The right partner, family acceptance, full legal rights, safe work place, these and others are certainly points of joy in our lives. Yet, as wonderful as they are we can never be assured of their presence in our lives.
via The Bible In Drag – Queering Scripture November 27, 2013
But Naomi said to her daughters-in-law. “Go back my daughters. Why do you want to come with me? I have no more sons inside me that you can take as spouses. No, you must go back my daughters. I am too old to marry again. Even if I told you that there was still hope for me, if I were to find a spouse and have children tonight, would you be willing to wait until they are grown to marry them? Would you refuse to remarry for this far-off hope? No, if you did that, it would tear me apart, for the hand of the Most High has been raised against me.”
Untitled Photograhy by Christina Mallet
Many a queer person has been were Naomi is at: where the path forward seems clogged with insurmountable obstacles. We have felt her sense of hopelessness in the midst of mayhem. Life has crashed down around us as it crashes around Naomi. Why even pretend to hold out a thought that the pendulum will swing our way if we bleive the voice of the entrenched that God is set against us?
Naomi’s dispair comes in the midst of the bleak reality of a life marginalized and adrift in the culture of her time. First her husband and then her sons died. She is a widow in a foreign land. All she can see is a road that leads to a life of poverty and begging. While Naomi’s fate may not be a direct threat to us, as les-bi-gay-trans-queer-intersex-asexual people we also have been left bereft and adrift in the culture of our time. She is a sister, a member of the family, who has traveled the road of the disenfranchised before us.
via The Bible In Drag – Queering Scripture. November 21, 2013
Then (Jesus) said to the disciples, “That’s why I tell you, don’t worry about your life and what you are to eat. Don’t worry about your body and what you are to wear. For life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Take a lesson from the ravens. They don’t sow or reap. They have neither a food cellar nor a barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds? Can any one of you, for all your worrying add a single hour to your life? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why worry about the rest?
“Notice the flowers grow. They neither labor nor weave, yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was robed like one of these! If that is how God clothes the grass in the field – which is here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow – how much more will God look after you! You have so little faith!
“As for you, don’t set your hearts on what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink. Stop worrying! All the nations of the world seek these things, yet your Abba God well knows what you need. Set your sights on the kin-dom of God, and all these other things will be given to you as well.”
I start with a confession – I have always wrestled with these words: don’t be anxious, don’t seek to control, trust. This advice is hard enough in general, yet from a queer perspective they seem to have even more weight. There are a thousand things to fret about. For those just discerning their orientation the whole issue of managing the closet, of who knows, who doesn’t know, when do we want someone to know, and each and every individual with which a potentially difficult conversation needs to take place with the risk of rejection. For those yearning and fighting for marriage equality and the constant and seemingly unending battle for respect and legal justice. For those who’ve mourned quietly over a break up, or even the death of a lover – not understood, or simply ignored by others.
via The Bible In Drag – Queering Scripture.November 11, 2013
But as soon as these saw the force advancing to meet them they said to Judas, ‘How can we, few as we are, engage such overwhelming numbers? We are exhausted as it is, not having had anything to eat today.’ ‘It is easy’ Judas answered ‘for a great number to be routed by a few; indeed in the sight of heaven deliverance, whether by many or by few, is all one; for victory in war does not depend on the size of the fighting force; it is from heaven that strength comes. They are coming against us in full-blown insolence and lawlessness to destroy us, our wives and our children, and to plunder us; but we are fighting for our lives and our laws, and he will crush them before our eyes; do not be afraid of them.’ When he had finished speaking, he made a sudden sally against Seron and his force and overwhelmed them. Judas pursued him down from Beth-horon as far as the plain. About eight hundred of their men fell, and the rest took refuge in the country of the Philistines. Judas and his brothers began to be feared, and alarm seized the surrounding peoples. His name even reached the king’s ears, and in every nation there was talk of Judas and his battles.
– 1 Maccabees, 3
The one word “faith” can have two meanings. One kind of faith concerns doctrines. It involves the soul’s assent to and acceptance of some particular matter. It also concerns the soul’s good according to the words of the Lord: Whoever hears my voice and believes in him who sent me has eternal life, and will not come to be judged. And again: He who believes in the Son is not condemned, but has passed from death to life.
How great is God’s love for men! Some good men have been found pleasing to God because of years of work. What they achieved by working for many hours at a task pleasing to God is freely given to you by Jesus in one short hour. For if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved and taken up to paradise by him, just as he brought the thief there. Do not doubt that this is possible. After all, he saved the thief on the holy hill of Golgotha because of one hour’s faith; will he not save you too since you have believed?
The other kind of faith is given by Christ by means of a special grace. To one wise sayings are given through the Spirit, to another perceptive comments by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing. Now this kind of faith, given by the Spirit as a special favour, is not confined to doctrinal matters, for it produces effects beyond any human capability. If a man who has this faith says to this mountain move from here to there, it will move. For when anybody says this in faith, believing it will happen and having no doubt in his heart, he then receives that grace.
It is of this kind of faith, moreover, that it is said: If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed. The mustard seed is small in size but it holds an explosive force; although it is sown in a small hole, it produces great branches, and when it is grown birds can nest there. In the same way faith produces great effects in the soul instantaneously. Enlightened by faith, the soul pictures God and sees him as clearly as any soul can. It circles the earth; even before the end of this world it sees the judgement and the conferring of promised rewards. So may you have the faith which depends on you and is directed to God, that you may receive from him that faith too which transcends man’s capacity.
via Universalis: Office of Readings.
With so much recent attention on the extravagance of Germany’s Bishop of Bling, the second reading from this mornings office has a particular relevance, with its stress on the extent of world poverty, and the Christian obligation to share our wealth. Below is a short extract, that should be especially embarrassing for bishops indulging in luxurious lifestyles.
But the message is important for all of us, not only bishops, and certainly includes gay Catholics. Continue reading
At Sunday Mass this morning, I was delighted to able to do the readings, and in particular this superb text from Wisdom – for which the relevance to lesbians and gay men is so obvious as hardly to need spelling out.
In your sight, Lord, the whole world is like a grain of dust that tips the scales,
like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground.
Yet you are merciful to all, because you can do all things
and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent.
Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence,
for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it.
And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist,
how be conserved if not called forth by you?
You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life,
you whose imperishable spirit is in all.
Little by little, therefore, you correct those who offend,
you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned,
so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you, Lord.
1st reading, 31st Sunday of OT, year C
The story from Luke’s Gospel, telling of Zacceus in the sycamore tree, has a direct parallel with the situation of gay men and lesbians in the Christian churches. Zaccheus is a tax collector, and so seen as an outcast, an obvious sinner, in Jewish society. Yet even so, Jesus not only accepts him, he invites himself to Zaccheus’ home.
Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance: he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. ‘He has gone to stay at a sinner’s house’ they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, ‘Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.’