Today’s reflection is written by Dwayne Fernandes, Director of Spirituality, New Ways Ministry, and a regular Bondings 2.0 contributor.
Today’s liturgical readings for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found by clicking here.
A Catholic mother from Texas recently reached out to New Ways Ministry for support. While I spoke with her, she wept. “I am fighting to hold on to my family’s faith,” she said.
She explained that both of her young daughters had come out as LGBTQ a few months apart from each other. While she and her husband have been welcoming and affirming of their children’s identities, she feels crushed by her bishop’s negative stance towards the LGBTQ community. The bishop’s negativity caused members of her family to cease participation in the Eucharist and sacramental life of the church. “We drive to the next diocese to receive the Eucharist” she lamented sadly, as they feel uninvited to receive the Eucharist in their home church. [Editor’s note: New Ways Ministry received permission from this mother to share her story publicly.]
After reading today’s liturgical scriptures, I thought of so much more I would like to say to her, so I wrote my thoughts down.
“I am so proud of how you and your husband have raised your children. Without the love you share as a family, the embrace you give your children to be honest and trusting of you, your daughters would never have had the courage to come-out to you. Rather they chose to share with you their innate and innermost God-created identities because of the example you set for them through your own faith and trust in God.
“In coming-out, your LGBTQ daughters transfigured themselves before you. The word transfiguration is defined as a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. When Jesus took Peter, James and John to the mountain-top and transfigured himself before them, his face shone like the sun, his clothes became white as the light and all experienced the glory of God that day. Your daughters gave you the honor of witnessing the glory of God when they transfigured themselves before you.
“In the Gospel today, we see a similar transfiguration. Bartimaeus, the blind man, begs to be healed, but many in the crowd rebuke him, coercing him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, Jesus, have pity on me!” Both you and your daughters will experience many in the crowd, perhaps even your bishop, rebuking you, coercing you to be silent, but I ask you to shout all the more, “Son of David, Jesus, have pity upon me!” Jesus will hear you. Jesus will call you. Jesus will ask you, “What do you want me to do for you?” And your faith, like that of Bartimaeus will save you.
“More importantly, you and your daughters will see! You will see the fullness of God’s beauty in your daughters and your daughters will see how God has chosen them – through their LGBTQ identities – to bring about the Reign of God on earth. When this happens, you and your family, like the Psalmist, will sing, “God has done great things for us; we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126).
“Many around you may still be blind to the beauty and the calling of your LGBTQ children. Others may condemn you for welcoming and accepting such “sinners” in your family. A few may even slap you with scriptural judgements. You are not alone here. Your Christ has walked in your shoes, and continues to walk with you in your trials. Your response, like that of Bartimaeus, is to throw aside your cloak – anything that weighs you down – stand up, and come to Jesus.
“Lastly, as a mother, take hope from today’s first reading from Jeremiah (31:7-9). Speaking of the return to Jerusalem after exile, the prophet says, “I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child…” As a mother who has been rejected, you will return as part of an immense throng. You will be consoled and comforted. You will be guided to new life, to brooks of water, and you will not stumble.
“God has delivered you and your daughters. As a remnant, an outcast of Israel, you are to be brought back. And instead of fighting to hold on to your family’s faith, fighting to raise yourself from the crushing weight of your bishop’s heel, you will, like Bartimaeus, stand up.
“You will come face-to-face with Jesus. Your faith will save you. And you will shout for joy and praise the God who named you Mother.”
—Dwayne Fernandes, New Ways Ministry, October 24, 2021