Sent Forth with New Eyes
Today’s post is from guest contributor Antonio Ortiz Siliceo. Antonio is Regional Officer for the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics. He is co-founder of the Mexico Network of Rainbow Catholics (Red Católica Arcoíris México, or REDCAM), and has been its coordinator since 2018. He was also coordinator of Efetá, a gay Catholic community in Mexico City.
Today’s liturgical readings for the 4th Sunday of Lent can be found here.
There are many moments in the Gospels when Jesus encountered people who lived “outside the norm,” people who were excluded: the poor, enslaved people, lepers, women, disabled people, or the blind. Today we especially remember the blind man from Siloam, someone who from his birth was singled out due to his condition. Yet, the blind man, “being touched” by Jesus and opening his eyes, comes to see. And he is someone who is judged and sent forth precisely for “being able to see” by recognizing the power of the God who restored his sight.
What then does blindness truly mean in this story? Is blindness about the one born blind who can be healed by Jesus’ touch? Or is it us in our foolishness who believe that we know everything about “the will of God,” as the Pharisees claimed? Do we continue tirelessly to repeat doctrines instead of living a personal experience of encounter with Jesus that opens our eyes and hearts?
We live in a time in which new generations now dare to raise their voices, questioning social injustices sometimes disguised as goodwill. Some of these injustices we have normalized within our spaces of faith, as when we come to judge our siblings for not being like we are or thinking like we do.
In Jesus’ time, certain Jewish religious teachings indicated blindness as a punishment for sin. Today, many religious doctrines erroneously describe LGBTQ+ people as ‘objectively disordered,’ when science itself makes us see that these circumstances are merely human variations.
The misunderstandings about sexual and gender diverse identities are too often a consequence reducing identities to genitals. We also judge sexual behaviors out of fear or ignorance. We confuse the concept of sin, attributing it to everything different from what we were taught to be correct. We exclude, forgetting that the main message of Jesus revolves around love and inclusion. There are no conditions on this love; the invitation is always just to be close to each person in their context.
But this message about being less judgmental and more loving is not only aimed at a conservative, fundamentalist, and intransigent community. As an LGBTIQ+ faith community, perhaps it is also time to question our own practices. We should review how much we judge, often misinformed about the different forms of diversity that we exclude. How often does this happen because we do not understand someone’s different way of life or thinking?
The Gospel is clear that the objective today is not to the churches by defending “truths” in an authoritative way and with empty language, nor is it only to recover sight and see with new eyes. It is fundamentally about accepting Jesus’ invitation to follow him, witnessing love and inclusion in our own environments like the blind man of Siloam sent forth.
As an LGBTIQ+ and ally community, we are called to create safe spaces of faith for every person, embracing all manifestations of diversity. We need to be witnesses who spread the joy of the Gospel by sharing our life experiences. In doing so, we let go of judgments we might hold, instead living in the loving ways Jesus has helped us to see with new eyes.
—Antonio Ortiz Siliceo, March 19, 2023
Amén! Well said!
I wish y’all would consider simplifying our ability to respond to your wonderful, challenging morning essays!
The Church does not say that members of the LGBTQ community are disordered. It says that they have a condition that is disordered. They, like every other human being, are made in the image and likeness of God and are deserving of all respect and love and support against unjust discrimination. The wording is very important and precise.