Transfiguration = Coming Out

During Lent, we are called to pay closer attention to gifts of  love, mercy, and forgiveness which God offers us all -year round.  Catholic LGBTQ people and Allies have experienced that love and mercy in so many unique ways, through so many powerful experiences. Bondings 2.0 asked our readers to write short reflections on selected Lenten themes for today and for each of the six Sundays in Lent.  The themes were chosen from New Ways Ministry online resource: “Journeys:  LGBTQ Scripture Reflection Series.”

Below are readers’ reflections for the Second Sunday of Lent. You can read the day’s Scripture passage and reflection questions by clicking here If you would like to consider submitting a reflection for an upcoming Sunday, please consult the guidelines, schedule, and submission form by clicking here.   

Thanks to all who submitted reflections!

Submitted by:  Katherine Pezo         Location:  United States

When I think about the transfiguration I see Jesus on that mountain revealing a very secret, special, and essential part of himself his disciples–perhaps they were the three he felt needed the grace of that reveal.

Jesus’s hidden, now out, transfigured self is beautiful and good to behold, just like our selves as LGBT people are beautiful and filled with God’s grace and presence–not separate from our being LGBT but because of it.

In my younger days, I was unaware I am transgender. I was confused and angry over my feelings about my body. However, when I realized my transgender identity, I found immense peace. Like Peter, I found God in this reveal, this transfiguration, and felt compelled to learn more about my identity and to find God in it and in others in the LGBT community, including my partner.

Yet at the same time there is also the reality of the bottom of the mountain. I have not come out, and, in fact, I am frightened to.  I am frightened to confront the messy reality that reveal might bring. Yet even so, I know God is not only with me, as he was with the young boy that Jesus healed right after the transfiguration, but also that this reveal has already happened between me and God. No one can deny or take that grace away from me. Perhaps the time to speak is not yet, just like with the disciples, but like Jesus I can still use the graces God has given me in this transfiguration of being transgender to give light to others.

Submitted by:  Michaelangelo Allocca              Location:  Brooklyn, New York

“Transfiguration is easy to understand: it’s just like transubstantiation, only turned inside out.”

That sentence  is not just a fun way to teach teenagers theology.  A core connection between the two concepts actually exists. As Peter’s incoherent stammering (“Peter didn’t know what he was really saying.” — Luke 9:33) illustrates, both transfiguration and transubstantiation are literally beyond comprehension, reminding us that our faith is founded on mystery and miracle. Try as we might to rationalize, Tertullian’s “it is certain because it is impossible” still carries the day. “Our Friend and Teacher is shining so brightly we can’t look at him, and  He’s chatting with people dead for centuries;” and “This sure tastes like bread and wine, but it IS the Body and Blood of Christ.”

The living faith of  young people who suffer unjust acts done by those entrusted with their care also blazes with the Real Presence in the face of the impossible. Sometimes their beloved teachers and mentors are fired for being true to their God-given identities and loving relationships — and the young (often accompanied by their parents) rise up in peaceful, prayerful protest, knowing that God manifests among them, and not in the hurtful acts of their superiors.

Far more frequently, the kids experience injustices that appear in more subtle, devious ways, and still, somehow, see the glass half-full, and refuse to allow their school, their church, their world, to be defined by fear and bigotry.

This is indeed miraculous.

Submitted by:  Donald Maher        Location:  Stony Run, Pennsylvania

In my nearly four decades of work in LGBTQ Catholic ministry, I have often presented the Transfiguration gospel as Jesus’ “coming out” story. In his case it is his coming out as “divine”, revealing his truth for the first time to some of his disciples. I believe there are rich parallels to our own “coming out” stories with guidance and direction not only for us as we reveal our truth, but also for our families, loved ones, friends and for our Church, who like the disciples often struggle to handle our truth.

Just like our own “coming out” experiences, Jesus has worried about the circumstances of revealing his truth: which disciples would first be told; where, when and how they would be told.  Jesus has a sense of anxiety not only for himself but about the reaction of the disciples who accompany him to the mountaintop. Perhaps they may not be able to handle the revelation of such truth.  Jesus takes only three of them to a safe place, remote and isolated place.

How do the disciples handle Jesus’ coming out? They fall to the ground and are paralyzed, crippled by fear and cannot speak. What does Jesus do? Does he storm off? Does he express anger? Does he express his disappointment? No. He acts with compassion and understanding.  In Matthew’s account of the story (17: 1-9), Jesus goes  crouches down to be with them, touches them and says,  “Do not be afraid!” (as he so often told all of us during his public ministry).

Perhaps most like our own “coming out” experiences,  in Matthew’s account, Jesus tell the disciples not to tell anyone what they learned, at least not yet. Coming out is not a one time event, for we do not come out all at once to everyone and everywhere.

The three different accounts of the Transfiguration in the gospels have one thing in common: Jesus and the disciples do not remain on the mountaintop to wallow in the bewilderment of the occasion. Rather they descend to return to the regular world with knowledge and the experience of his good news and to continue Jesus’ public ministry and to spread his Gospel message.

Guided by the Transfiguration, let us take comfort in the knowledge that after any of our own bewildering and at times challenging “coming out” experiences, there can be a time of grace where we can return to our regular lives, not only with our good news, but also with the good news of Jesus Christ, continuing his public ministry and living and spreading his Gospel message.

Submitted by:  Don E. Siegal           Location:  Three Rivers, California

On Ash Wednesday, I attended a day of reflection. One of the reflection questions was: Have you ever experienced the feeling of being totally accepted, warts, failings, and all? The answer was a resounding “yes.” That  question and answer are like one of today’s reflection questions: What has been your mountain top experience to reveal who you really are?

One mountain top experience occurred in 1975 in Pensacola, Florida, where I was on active duty in the U. S. Navy as a dentist. The panhandle of Florida has a moderate climate that is conducive to motorcycle riding all year long. I got to know a group of straight bikers. One day they asked me if I would like to be part of their group. This invitation was a terrifying moment for me; regardless, I decided that truth was most important in this situation. I responded “If you want me to be part of your group then you need to know that I am gay.” Their response was acceptance, “So what, we already know that.” The friendship and love that was created at that time still continues to this day.

I received a gift of unconditional acceptance—a true grace–and they received many gifts from me, such good food service provided for our occasional weekend runs in the wilderness of the Black Water River.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, March 8, 2020

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