The People Who Walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light

Advent’s liturgical readings from the prophet Isaiah are among the most beautiful, poetic, and hopeful texts of the Bible.  They speak of expectation, longing, liberation, and God’s unfailing love and solidarity with humanity.

A few weeks ago, Bondings 2.0 asked its readers to write short reflections on selected Isaiah readings from the perspective of LGBTQ people and allies.  We will print selections from these reflections on each of the four Advent Sundays.

If you would like to submit a reflection for the coming weeks, please click here, read the guidelines, and complete the submission form.

Below are the selections for the First Sunday of Advent. All of today’s reflections are based on the following Scripture:

Isaiah 9:1-2:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. 

You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest, as they exult when dividing the spoils.

Submitted by: Adolph Dwenger   Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Rick watches the Hallmark Channel 24/7. Occasionally he will remember that he has seen a movie and request the channel changed, but that is rare. All the movies seem to have a similar theme: there is a void in the main characters’ lives until the last 15 minutes of the movie when they find love.

Rick will often tell me during a movie that if I loved him he could live at home. Sometimes he is angry with me and begs me to take him out of the skilled nursing (dementia) unit. Usually I am able to calm him down and when he is unable to remember or can’t complete a sentence — I remember. I fill in the blank. I always try to honor who he is and was.

I recognize the darkness. The darkness is real but it doesn’t overcome me. Even when Catholic Church leadership denies our love, I know what love is.

Before I leave, I give Rick a good-night kiss and tell him that I love him. Often in that darkness there appears a great light when Rick responds, “I love you, too.”

“The Prophet Isaiah” by Antonio Balestra

Submitted by: Katherine Pezo   Location: United States

For long periods of time across the world, LGBT people have been marginalized, persecuted, and ignored by people and institutions around us. We can easily see that LGBT people have long “walked in darkness.” However, despite this, we shouldn’t despair because the Holy Spirit has been and still is actively at work in the world giving us light and deliverance. We can see the Spirit’s work in both the Church and the wider world, as it moves both realms slowly to allow us to be seen and loved as God sees and loves us. It may be more obvious in some places, but I think this light is slowly shining and dawning in the Church, too, despite setbacks. I pray every day that the Spirit may bring strength and hope to LGBT people and that the Church may fully accept us as part of itself. I have a faith that it will. This is our light in the darkness. We must also always remember, too, the light that is always shining in our presence. The light lives within us and gives us our being. It is the light that made us who we are, that made us LGBT. This light is our God, Jesus Himself along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It is in this light that we have our strength and our foundation. This light that loves us, tells us we are okay, that we are normal, that we are beloved, that we are who we are meant to be. This light that gives us this joy and will bring our fulfillment.

Submitted by: Rev. Steve Wolf   Location: Nashville, Tennessee

In 2008, our institutional Church reiterated the suggestion that a gay man like me is automatically unsuitable for seminary because of an incapacity to relate correctly to men and women. Frustration, exasperation, then anger because an old lie is available where young Catholics who are LGBTQ might find it and be hurt by it.

At Saint Peter’s Basilica that autumn, I looked for a Mass to attend. Found it, but the usher would not let me in. So I sat down out of the way on the floor facing that altar to participate. Realizing I was going nowhere, another usher charitably let me in. Sitting in a blue chair, I had a deep sense of solidarity with all the Catholics who for whatever reason feel excluded from the life of the Church, a deep pain.

 After coming out as a gay celibate priest, I had hoped in my next assignment to help the parish become a place where Catholics who are LGBTQ could attend Sunday Mass without fear of being shamed. Unable to make that happen, disappointment and the trauma of that failure has led me into a healthy retirement.

There is so much suffering in our world that is unnecessary, and I believe Jesus Christ the Risen Lord is still leading us into nonjudgmental acceptance of all as siblings to him in his one family. Now when I help out at a parish on a Sunday or attend Mass in the pews, I am consoled with the warmth of the light that overcomes the night, reminded again that the Holy Spirit, she is always up to something.

Edited by Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, December 1, 2019

3 replies
  1. Don E Siegal
    Don E Siegal says:

    After reading those reflections, I can only sit in awe of the Holy Spirit. Thank all of you who took the time to submit your very personal reflections. They were a great help to all of us who, no matter the difficulty, will not leave the Church that we love.


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