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 Fifth 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.
Submitted by: Zaqueo Location: Big Sur, California
Like Lazarus, I too was in darkness but not dead like he, but I felt dead. The tomb I built around me kept me in safety, but I was dying from fear, shame, and loneliness. The rags I myself had wrapped we’re killing me. They were suffocating me, choking me. Finally at the age 39, I began unwrapping as I began recovering from alcoholism, one of my wrappings. I heard Jesus calling me out, telling me that I didn’t have to live and stay in fear anymore. I heard him, I believed him! He told me he loved me being gay. He pointed me to a group of men in a monastery who accepted me, even after another place had told me no. I came out to my fellow monks, and I did so also at a Sunday liturgy when the entire congregation stood and applauded me for the courage God had given me to finally drop the last piece of wrapping, self-hatred. I am now a priest and monk and I never turned my back on any LGBTQ person, but I’ve helped them come out from their own wrappings and find Jesus standing, ready to embrace and love them as he has loved me. I was not Lazarus, but Zacchaeus, whom he called down from my tree of fear to the embrace of Jesus himself, who comes to my house and eats as he did with his good friend Lazarus and other friends.
Submitted by: Beth Garascia Location: South Bend, Indiana
The gospel tells us that when Jesus saw Mary weeping about her brother Lazarus’s death, He was deeply troubled, and He wept. As I read this, I felt a kinship with this vulnerable man moved by the tears of one friend and crying about the death of another. Losing someone you love is one of life’s most difficult challenges and grieving is a natural response. It’s important to pay attention to what breaks your heart.
Jesus got in touch with His own pain, and it became a source of healing. Because of His friendship with Mary, Jesus shared her woundedness and responded by raising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus must have seen the world in a new way when he took off his grave clothes.
When my children came out to me, I felt a loss. I gave up of my preconception of who they were. Both my son and daughter came out to my husband and me on separate occasions several years ago. The moment my son revealed his identity to us, I knew that he might never be a father, so I lost a mother’s dream for her son.
I had a grief reaction, too, when my daughter came out, but my fear then was that that our family would be judged negatively for having two gay children.
After many tears, and having come out to family and friends, I have let go of that anxiety and the desire to control. I am now working actively for justice for LGBT persons in the Church. My heart is still broken by the fact that many of them don’t feel welcome there.
My personal grief has been transformed into an understanding that being gay is an integral part of who each of my children is. I love them as they are, a gift of God to our family and our community.
Submitted by: Michaelangelo Allocca Location: Brooklyn, New York
Two moments in the story of Lazarus create a spiritual and emotional tug-of-war which resonates with anyone who has come out, or who has been present for others in their coming-out process.
At one end of the rope is, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.” (John 11:5-6) At the other is the unforgettable, “Jesus wept.” (11:35) The first is so baffling: If he loved them so much, why delay? Surely Jesus had his reasons, but the waiting feels inhuman; yet, the shortest verse in the Bible assures us of just how human he is. Jesus may operate on a divine clock unknown to us; but, just like us, he cries when a loved one dies.
Facing coming out, I wondered, “When will it be the right time?” Not being Jesus, I had no “in two days” certainty; I had to rely on prayer and the advice of trusted friends. When I’ve been blessed to be one of those trusted friends myself, I remember that knowing the right time is in God’s hands, not mine. My role is to just stay with the person who is struggling, and wait as long as it takes for them to know. I remember, too, that a person weeps when he loves someone who suffers, with no more reason needed. Loving presence and shared emotion are a better answer than anything put into words.
Submitted by: Rev. Gregory Greiten Location: Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Jesus cried out in a loud voice into the dead man’s tomb, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out bound in the wrappings of death.
Growing up, I remember watching The Invisible Man series on television. I was fascinated by the possibility of being totally invisible whenever and wherever I chose to be, even if only in my imagination. In a world so often intolerant and unaccepting of LGBTQ+ people, the wrappings of death covering my body were numerous incidences of homophobia, toxic shaming, hatred, name-calling, bullying, and rejection. Unfortunately, trying to live a life of invisibility only caused deeper wounding by not loving the person that God created me to be. I even once drew a picture of myself entitled “The Invisible Gay Teen,” dreaming of possibly removing these bandages of death binding me so tightly.
In my moment of deepest despair, I heard the voice of Jesus, the resurrection and new life, crying out to me in my tomb, “Gregory, come out!” No longer would I need to be invisible. No longer would I need to live in fear and remain in isolation. No longer would I be weighed down by homophobia and hatred. Jesus was summoning those around me to “Unbind him, and let him go.” I had to shed these trappings of death to be liberated and live life anew.
My life was horrible when I believed that even God was against me and God’s love was beyond my reach. That message is incredibly abusive and traumatic behavior whenever it occurs, but, even more so when done in the name of Jesus or in the ministry of the Church. Jesus demonstrates his abiding love especially for those who have been ostracized and hurt by others. Today, I realize that God’s dream for me is not to lead a life of invisibility, but rather, to live a life where God’s light shines brightly through me.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, March 29, 2020