Friday, July 10, 2009

4th of July message at the Dignity USA Convention in San Francisco

I had the distinct privilege of addressing the Dignity USA convention last weekend in San Francisco, California. The following is a post communion reflection, which I delivered on Saturday 4 July 2009. The Scriptures were Mark 6: 1-6 and Ezekiel 2: 2-5.

“he (Jesus) began to teach” Mark associates Jesus’ activity of teaching with his self-revelation. God is revealing. God makes himself known to us. The Spanish language makes a distinction between two types of knowledge 1) to know someone [conocer] and 2) to know something [saber]. The first kind of knowledge is the personal revelation, which Mark is alluding to here in this Gospel passage. We can know someone in this sense only if he/she opens himself or herself to us and us to him or her.

Mark notes, “He (Jesus) could work no miracle there, apart form curing a few who were sick by laying hands on them, so much did their lack of faith distress him.” Here faith means trust. It is our opening our selves to this personal revelation of God to us. We can trust God because God is our Creator. The prophet Jeremiah states, “Before you were knitted together in your mother’s womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I dedicated you.”

Think about that, before your Mom saw your face on the day you were born God already knew what you looked like, the color of your hair, your skin, your eyes, your gender, your orientation, your height, etc, all those variables that combine to make the unique person who you are. As the people at Marriage Encounter say, “God doesn’t make junk” and God made you. Furthermore, the fact that you draw breath now is because God wills it.

Notice that Mark says that Jesus could work no miracle there, apart from curing a few who were sick…” God does everything he possibly can do for us, but he doesn't force himself upon us. This healing was external, the physical, the body. God can heal us interiorly only if we open our self to him in trust (faith).

The significance of this episode is that it represents the end of Jesus’ Galilean ministry foreshadowing the greater rejection by the religious leaders in Jerusalem; at the same time, it is a new phase of the ministry in which the Twelve will play a more active role as an anticipation of the mission of the greater Church to all humanity.

The prophet Ezekiel says, “Spirit entered into me” This is done to bridge the gap between God and humanity. God’s spirit enters into Ezekiel strengthening him “to stand up” to speak the truth of God and our relationship with God.

At the Second Vatican Council, we were told that “we” are the Church. We, God’s people, are the Church. The Creator made each of us in his image and likeness. The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated in 1975 that there are “homosexuals who are such because of some kind of innate instinct.” That God created me gay/lesbian. He has called us, like Ezekiel and like the Twelve, to stand up and reach out to others.

Harvey Milk once said that if every gay/lesbian came out that discrimination would end that day. Trust the God who created you, who loves you, who wills you to draw breath at this very moment. God will heal you interiorly with this truth. God will impart the Spirit, as he did with the Prophet Ezekiel, to stand up. Then God will use you, despite the objections of some religious leaders, to bring that same faith and hope to others.


So many of us, and countless generations which have lived before us, have suffered emotional, psychological and even physical harm because of silence. The greatest gift you can give to yourself and to others is the truth. To stand up, like the Prophet Ezekiel, and speak the truth about yourself in the light of day.

Jesus said that the truth will set you free. He never promised that it would be easy, or without personal cost to speak the truth. However, the only thing more expensive, both personally and collectively, is for us not to speak that liberating truth.

Many of those who have changed their position on full marriage equality and full civil rights for our community have done so, because they have come to know of a family member, relative, friend, co-worker or acquaintance who is LGBT.

I would encourage Catholics, and people of other faiths, to wear a small pink triangle to Mass (worship services). Do not be invisible. Stand up. Make yourself known and through you, God will heal others.


Logan Bear said...

Your advice on wearing a pink triangle is similar to the Solidarity Sunday Project of DignityUSA. See:

Also, DignityUSA recommends a rainbow ribbon instead. Solidarity Sunday was created in 1995. Although the actual Sunday is the Sunday before National Coming Out Day, DignityUSA recommends wearing of a rainbow ribbon all year long.

Steven said...

An eloquent address which served as a great follow-up to your post from July 1st - "The Unchanging Truth." Here's to visibility and healing! Thank you for sharing.

Marky's MADWORLD said...

Beautifully put. I wish everyone would come out so others know they are certainly not alone. Sadly today I am being bashed by members of my own family & it hurts but I take small comfort in knowing I am not alone. I hope one day we truly are all equal & everyone is out.

Bless You Father Geoff

TheresaJ said...

From TheresaJ:
In The Fresno Bee's 7/11/09 paper, page B5, Dave Wainscott, pastor and professor, wrote 'Some confessions from a Christian pastor'. Maybe you're inspiring more people than you know. I continue to pray for you and your family/friends, and ask that you pray for me to also do the right thing. Take care of yourself. Con carino y mucho respecto.

FDeF said...

As a former member of Dignity Hartford (now defunct I think) I must say that Dignity USA has about zero visibility in the LGBT Community, at least here in my neck of the woods. For me Dignity served as a "grace-full" exit from the Church...I find that I could no longer turn the other cheek to accept incessant slaps on the face from Bishops and the Vatican. I can also no longer tolerate the parsing of words to justify remaining in the Church while not accepting its misguided teachings on homosexuality. I find priests who try to justify their homosexual activities and same-sex relationships to be hypocritical and dishonest. In my opinion, Dignity is a concept whose time has passed.