Today’s reflection is by Bondings 2.0 contributor Michael Sennett, whose brief bio can be found by clicking here.
Today’s liturgical readings for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time can be found here.
In biblical times, the Good Samaritan would not have been a popular person. Samaritans in this era were accused of being unclean and were generally despised. Yet, for a person from a supposedly unfavorable tribe, the Samaritan takes a substantial risk to help the victim of robbery, unlike the priest and the Levite who choose safety. The Samaritan recognized an injustice against a human being and offered mercy in return. Perhaps his own experience of rejection is what moved him to care for the wounded man and secure him shelter, similar to how LGBTQ+ people, who in the face of oppression, have proven to be Good Samaritans to others.
Many Queer Catholics have had negative experiences in the Church have been beaten down and stripped of their dignity. As a result of this poor treatment, LGBTQ+ Catholics have also come to the rescue for those who are pushed to the margins, even sometimes serving the very same people who have contributed to our isolation.
In the spring of 2021, I was invited to participate in a conversation with Bishop Thomas Zinkula of Davenport, Iowa, and a committee tasked with developing diocesan guidelines for responding to transgender people. A trans woman and I shared our experiences. Throughout the dialogue, especially when the trans woman was speaking, I was overcome with admiration. Although she had endured some of the worst situations possible, she was still committed to her faith. The woman also discussed the frequent opportunities she had to advocate for other marginalized people in her parish and diocese, including survivors of sexual abuse and the disabled community.
Not only had she prevented a chip from growing on her shoulder, but she took all of the negative energy that was hurled at her and used it to fuel her passion for justice. Likewise, my experience as a transgender man aids in my work coordinating the social justice programs of my parish: having known the pain of exclusion, I want to foster a better environment.
More recently, having taken part in a number of listening sessions for the Synod on Synodality, I was astounded by the responses of LGBTQ+ people. After recalling harsh experiences, many would follow-up with how they care for others in the community. Learning about the high rates of unhoused queer youth, one person was moved to begin a ministry to assist with the needs of teens in shelters. What was most heartwarming though, were the interactions between the people in these synod sessions. Some people were worried that the Church was changing too rapidly and the tradition would die out. Queer Catholics offered a listening ear and genuine comfort. By the time the sessions ended, human connection prevailed over fear. I witnessed the presence of Christ in this radical solidarity.
As Christians, we must be willing to clean our neighbors’ wounds, even at great personal cost. LGBTQ+ people exemplify this when they respond with compassionate care for others. Whether queer Catholics are tackling systemic injustice or journeying with someone through troubled waters, they are taking heed of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: “Go and do likewise.” Let us all answer God’s call to be Good Samaritans who defend the dignity of life.
—Michael Sennett (he/him), July 10, 2022