by Bryan Massingale, STD
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
NOTE: This reflection was posted on January 16th on the New Ways Ministry blog.
A friend shared with me pictures of his recent marriage to his husband. As I gazed on the faces of the beaming couple – one black, the other white – it gave me a new perspective on today’s gospel reading. John’s gospel tells us that Jesus’ first public sign of God’s love among us happened at a wedding. His first miracle was to bless human love by joining the joyous celebration. His first public act as Radical Love Incarnate was to multiply human love by gifting the couple with even better wine than they could ever obtain. Jesus’s actions affirmed that where human love is found, God’s love abounds.
This weekend, we celebrate the life and ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a time for remembering how courageous people challenged their nation (and its churches!) for ostracizing children of God by branding them as inferior, treating them as outsiders, regarding them as subhuman creatures unworthy of basic decency and undeserving of equal justice. Without doubt, we will hear recordings this weekend of King’s dream of a nation where “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” It is a dream that is still more aspiration than reality.
It is easy – perhaps too easy – for members of the LGBTQ community to see deep parallels between our dreams and those of civil rights activists of a time still in living memory. Despite the legal recognition of our committed relationships, and new protections (at least in the United States) against employment and housing discrimination, some of us still must fight for the simple courtesy of being addressed by our correct pronouns. Some of us fear for our lives if we leave our homes wearing clothing that reflects our gender identities. So many young queer students endure debilitating isolation and vicious harassment in their schools and families. Many priests and vowed religious women and men mask their sexuality out of fear. And my Catholic friends’ marriage was celebrated in a Protestant church because, in the words of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “God cannot bless sin.”
Despite the gains and progress of recent years, the struggle of LGBTQ persons for decency and equality remains, in the words of the poet Langston Hughes, “a dream deferred.”…