When I heard of the Supreme Court’s decision adding sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, my first reaction was: All humans deserve the opportunity to seek employment free from discrimination.
Yet, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of USCCB lays out the concern.
I am deeply concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively redefined the legal meaning of ‘sex’ in our nation’s civil rights law. This is an injustice that will have implications in many areas of life.
By erasing the beautiful differences and complementary relationship between man and woman, we ignore the glory of God’s creation and harm the human family, the first building block of society. Our sex, whether we are male or female, is part of God’s plan for creation and for our lives. As Pope Francis has taught with such sensitivity, to live in the truth with God’s intended gifts in our lives requires that we receive our bodily and sexual identity with gratitude from our Creator. No one can find true happiness by pursuing a path that is contrary to God’s plan. (emphasis added)
Every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and, without exception, must be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Protecting our neighbors from unjust discrimination does not require redefining human nature.
We pray that the Church, with the help of Mary, the Mother of God, will be able to continue her mission to bring Jesus Christ to every man and woman.
So (early warning) what follows is my way-too-long struggle to sort all this, as I talk with Our Lord.
“During these times…”
I’m so tired of hearing this phrase, Holy Lord. I hear it drone out from both the sincere and the sanctimonious to initiate some monologue on masks or medicine or malevolence.
And yet, today, right now, in this time and place, You are offering us a way to sooth some of the pain and suffering of Your Son. You’re offering us an opportunity to share Your love and to find new ways that include all of Your people in Your grace.
All of us
All of us
Even we aspiring saints.
The ignored, the ignorant,
The neglected, the negligent,
The elite and the alone;
The famished and the fed;
The despised and the despicable.
All of us are Your beloved children, Holy Lord.
But, not all of us know You or Your love.
We, the privileged
We, who know You — we, who have been baptized into Your truth — we are the privileged ones of this world.
Through no fault or action of our own, You chose us. Just as we didn’t choose our parents or the country of our birth, or our station in life, we didn’t choose to know You, Holy Father, or Your Son. We were chosen. You found us right where we were and called us to You.
This is true privilege.
This is the real job opportunity.
For in You is the freedom and love
That passes all our understanding.
Too often, we forget that You’re the source of everything good in our lives. We believe that our good fortune is something we’ve earned, something we deserve, maybe — through some right of birth or heritage or even our own hard work.
But, no. These are all gifts of Your grace. You decided where we were born and when. And You selected our parents. You gave us the talents to succeed in our work and the strength to awake each day to embrace our lives. And You have given us the times in which we live.
In these times
Your gift in this time for those of us who know and love You is the blessing of sharing Christ with others, those less privileged, those needing—longing, possibly—to know You and to love You, too. Our gift is the opportunity to be an active part of Christ’s body — Your hands and heart — here on earth.
It’s that simple…and that profound.
What does this mean in action in this situation, Father? What does this look like on the holy ground of Your love?
Down here amongst Your unruly children?
Surely, we must share Your love through the way we live our lives. But what if we are asked to act—or made to act publicly—in ways that defy — or even defile — Your love for us, ways foreign to Your teaching?
We learn early that we are to hate the sins, love the sinners. But in this time many are telling us that in order to love the sinners, we must approve of — love, even — their sin.
How does a religious school, for example, allow into its midst individuals, who, gleefully, often vociferously, reject one of Your most basic, Your most foundational gifts — the beautiful gift of who they are as beloved male and female children of God, who they are as Your beloved creations?
How does the religious institution function within the dichotomy of You and Not You? God and not God? How do we ease the friction, act with mercy, heal the wounded, protect the innocent, help You to call the willing?
Where is the opportunity in this, Holy Father? Where—what—is Your gift that You seek to have us give?
Your Word in action
Sister Marilyn taught 2nd grade at my daughter’s Catholic school years ago. For decades she faithfully helped to prepare young Catholic girls and boys for their first communion. Our family was not Catholic at the time. I spoke with Sister once about how excluded my daughter felt from the first communion ceremony that eventually followed for all her classmates.
Sister corrected me, ‘Oh no, we don’t exclude anyone or leave any one out. Everyone is welcome to be part of the church and to participate in the beauty of what we believe.’
And there’s the nut of it, isn’t it, Father? The Church universal. The body of Christ. Living, yet unchanged and unchangeable. Broken, yet complete. Sacrificed, given away, that our souls might be sanctified through our faith in You and in Your Son.
You’ve created us to be free. You allow us to choose in what and in whom we believe. As Christians, we believe in You, Holy Father and in Your Son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit — that beautiful breath of love shared by Father and Son.
But so many others don’t know You or believe in Your Son. Too many have not even been introduced.
How do we embrace these others, Father, who reject our faith and insist that it (and we) must change in order to conform to their devices and desires.
How do we share Your love with those who have no faith and who hope only in themselves?
How do we share Christ with them, who demand that we deny You and love them first?
How do we — under the force of law — share the truth of Your love that You have shared with us?
How can we do anything good, anything pleasing to You, without speaking with love and affection to these others — these hopeless, hapless creatures whom You love?
How do we do all this, any of this, except through Your grace, full of faith in You, knowing that Your hand is at work in this, as it is in all things?
You never said it would be easy
Indeed, You showed us the terrible pain of Your Son’s passion and told us to ‘follow Him.’
Even Mary and Joseph, when directed by Caesar Augustus, submitted to an arduous journey to Bethlehem in order to participate in a government-required census. Our Holy Mother was pregnant. She and Joseph were poor. But You chose that time for them to leave their home and family who loved them to carry Your Word-made-flesh to this distant place. And once they arrived, they weren’t welcomed or made comfortable. They weren’t treated lovingly. Indeed, there was no room for them — or for You.
But there, in that mean, inhospitable and humble place, is where You and Your love broke into our world.
You chose Mary and Joseph to carry Your light of hope first to the world’s poor and lowly. You even provided a bright light to guide the way of the world’s wise and kingly. They traveled their own difficult and dangerous journeys to Your Son, Jesus Christ, coming from far-away lands — from places that did not know You; from traditions foreign to Your Word. And yet, they came bearing their own gifts with which to honor and adore You.
Just as You sent the light to guide those foreigners to You so long ago, You are, even now, preparing us in this time to be the light of Your love for those who don’t yet know You. Those whom You are calling to Yourself. Those others in our midst.
And just as Sister Marilyn taught us year’s ago, You don’t exclude anyone from the beauty of Your truth. Nonetheless, like Mary, we each have to consent to Your will. When called by You, each of us has to say our own grace-filled, faith-filled ‘Yes’ to You and to Your Son.
Just say ‘Yes’
Now in this time of turmoil, my child, be My Light by how you live your life. Give witness to the truth of My love. Then, share the gift of love that I share with you. I’ll show You how.
To share and uplift other believers? Yes.
To make room for You, Lord—God’s own Word-made-flesh? Yes.
To be love for all those others among us—the least, the lost and the hopeless, the revolting, the reviled, and the wretched? Yes.
To include in our work and in our lives these other ones—forgotten for too long, ignored too fully? Yes.
For how else might they come to know Me?
Must we strengthen our resolve? Yes.
Understand Your Word better? Yes.
Prepare to share Your love with those who hate us and You? Yes.
Learn to be holy not just in our homes and our protected enclaves, but in public for all to see — to be Your light in our world’s darkness? Yes.
Are we ready?
As others scream and slur,
As they deface and disparage You,
As they have and surely will again,
Will we run away, like Peter and the others,
Will we deny You, again and again?
As they seize and distort our speech,
As they defame Your gifts,
Are we prepared? I pray so.
Will we turn our other cheek, Father,
The one of love offered,
Only to be rejected and scorned,
As You were? As Your Son was?
As others point at us with their accusations and allegations;
As they brutalize our hearts with their hatred,
And fill our world with their idols,
Are we prepared, even so, to include them in our lives,
But not give them our souls,
All for Your love of them?
Am I prepared? I pray so.