The Sunday Project
The Queer Voice in the Desert
Second Sunday of Advent |
By Patrick Flores
Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship. Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God. Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones. For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God. The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.
Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
In the eighth year of the reign of a pope who welcomes us without protecting us, when region by region queer siblings are simultaneously accepted and celebrated, hated and killed, where no matter who rules and governs there are those who in the dark shadows and in the broad daylight of the Church make it their mission that we will never live our lives fully, a voice still cries out in the desert:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
for God’s children are made whole.
Every queer life is sacred,
and every queer relationship is worthy of honor.
All the world will one day see,
in difference there is beauty,
and in equality there is peace.
Advent is the great season of hope amidst repentance. Faith in the promise of that one day when things will be made right. And regret for the ways in which it is not yet this day. Guilt that sacredness and wholeness and beauty and peace are not what the Catholic Church has ever given its queer members.
The Church should feel guilty. Its members should express regret. Leaders should show grief, all for the ways they have given their queer members abomination, incompleteness, offensiveness, and turmoil as pieces of our religious identity.
Those are not God’s gifts. Those are not God’s promises. And so a voice cries out in the desert to counter them:
Sacred. Whole. Beautiful. Peace.
It is time for the Church to hear that voice.
It is time for us to speak up.