Knowing Jeremiah’s Lament—and God’s Love—as an LGBTQ+ Catholic

Sr. Donna McGartland

Today’s post is from guest contributor Sr. Donna McGartland. Donna is one of the authors in Love Tenderly: Sacred Stories of Lesbian and Queer Religious published by New Ways Ministry.

Today’s liturgical readings for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time can be found here.

I recently learned that a Mass scheduled at Duquesne University in solidarity with LGBTQ+ parishioners was cancelled because of pressure from Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh. Hundreds of emails, phone calls, and letters, some of which were threatening, caused the bishop to ask the university to cancel the Mass.

In his letter, Bishop Zubik cited a flyer which used the phrase, “Pride Mass.” He claimed that the flyer “confused some and enraged others,” leading to “hateful” responses that did not keep with Christian charity. Although the bishop condemned the negative responses to the Mass, he also added, “the Church cannot support behavior that goes against God’s law.”

Kevin Hayes, who was instrumental in planning the Mass, said the incident made him more aware of the “ignorance and fear” within the Catholic community. He said, “we hope that can be addressed through the love of Christ, frankly, and help people get beyond their fear, whatever it is, with LGBTQ+ members and get beyond the ignorance as well too and try to move toward some reconciliation. … We hope we can keep moving forward and really be a church where we can be welcoming.”

For me, this story is a modern-day version of Jeremiah’s speech found in the first reading for today’s liturgy. Jeremiah was prophesying that disaster will come to the people of Israel because they are refusing to hear God’s word. Hearing Jeremiah’s words, the priest, Pashhur, the chief officer in the House of God, felt threatened, and he tortured the prophet. Jeremiah called Pashhur, “Terror” and felt like Pashhur and his friends were searching for ways to find fault with Jeremiah: “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him! All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine.”

Jeremiah, however, turned to God and recognized that God is always with him. He praises God, entrusting himself to the Lord, “who has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!”

“The Prophet Jeremiah” by Marc Chagall (1968)

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I often feel the pain of rejection caused by hatred, fear, and ignorance. I know personally Jeremiah’s lament and his sadness that those who feel threatened by him are searching for ways to condemn. I am deeply hurt and saddened by the hateful responses which caused Bishop Zubik to request the cancellation of a Mass that sought to welcome LGBTQ+ members. I also hear the voice of Jeremiah in me desiring to invite those who criticized the intention of the Mass to hear God’s word of love and welcome.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus expresses how much God deeply cares for all of us. “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your God’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

God, who created me in God’s own image, loves me and welcomes me as I am. God calls me to speak in the light what I hear in the darkness and to proclaim on the housetops what I hear whispered. May we be united in this same God and affirm one another in our goodness. May we proclaim God’s love and acceptance of all persons for we are created in God’s image and together form Christ’s body.

Sr. Donna McGartland, June 25, 2023

6 replies
  1. gloria papastrat
    gloria papastrat says:

    Very well put sister. I have a gay son and have welcomed his friends with open arms. It saddens me when I hear people insult the LGBTQ community. My son often tells me that not all people will think like me. I’m sorry for the parent that doesn’t accept or love their queer son or daughter. God did create us all and loves us all.

    • Sr Donna
      Sr Donna says:

      Thank you, Gloria. Your son and his friends are blessed to have you. I continue to pray that all may know how accepted and loved they are.

  2. S. Phil
    S. Phil says:

    Thank you Donna for raising your voice and speaking loud and clear! I look forward to being able to do the same one day soon.

    • Sr Donna
      Sr Donna says:

      Phil, please give yourself time. I pray you first come to know how loved and accepted you are for you are God’s beloved, created in God’s image and likeness.


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