Delivering God’s Message – to LGBT Christians (16th Sunday of OT)

in the extract from Colossians that forms the second reading for today, the 16th Sunday of Ordinary time (Year C), there is very little that must   be done to make clear it’s direct relevance to LGBT Christians. All we really need is to think carefully about the pronouns. In addressing his readers as “you”, Paul is using the plural form. He is addressing all the members of the church in Colossus – and by extension, all the members of the Church, everywhere. “All” certainly includes LGBT people,as it includes all minorities, of every kind.

Conversely, when Paul writes “I”, he is describing himself, as one directly chosen by God to spread the message of Christ. But we know that we all are chosen to be disciples, we are all called to apostleship. We too, are called to spread the message – by example, if not also more directly in words.

Here’s Paul’s text:

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—

26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you,the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

-Colossians 1:24 – 28 (New International Version)

and now the same, adjusting the pronouns with minimal additional commentary:

24 Now I we (should) rejoice in what I am we are suffering for you LGBT people, and I we fill up in my our flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

(“Christ’s afflictions” include, among many others, the injuries to LGBT people so unjustly wrought in his name).

25 I we have become its servant by the commission God gave me us to present to you LGBT people the word of God in its fullness—

26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.

(that is, to all the Lords’ people. What has been “kept hidden” for far too long but is now becoming more widely acknowledged, is that we who are LGBT are also included among those people).

27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you LGBT people,the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.

(What is really important is Christ and his message – not the distortions presented by some religious leaders to justify customary prejudice and discrimination).

So, we as LGBT Christians must understand first that we are included in the “Good News” of Christianity, and furthermore that we are called, like other Christians, to spread this message ourselves. But how are we to do this – and how are we to find the means to endure, let alone “rejoice in” the sufferings that Paul tells us this entails? The gospel reading, of the familiar tale of Martha and Mary, provides an answer.

In today’s Gospel story (Luke 10: 38 – 42), we read how Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to his words, while Martha busies herself with the necessary work of serving the guests. We should take from this the important lesson that while there is undoubtedly hard work to be done, it is also essential to take time out, just to listen to God’s word.

The Jesuits describe themselves as “contemplatives in action”. The society is fully committed to extensive prayer and growth in spirituality – with one purpose of that prayer, the discernment of mission, what it is that the Lord is requiring them to do. Another, is the spiritual nourishment that provides the necessary strength to go out and execute that personal mission. That strikes precisely the correct balance. As LGBT Christians, we have an obligation to go out into the world, offering encouragement to the LGBT community and also countering the hostility and distortions of the Christian message, so frequently delivered by so- called Christians using religion as a cover for prejudice and discrimination. But for discernment on the best way to do this, and for the spiritual strength to cope with the hostility we will encounter, we need also to spend time in our own, ongoing spiritual development and renewal: spending time with the Lord in prayer and careful reflection.

 

 

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