The readings this weekend are hard reading to preach on. In the Epistle we have Saint Paul struggling with a Shakespearean dilemma “to be or not to be”. In the Gospel we hear Jesus basically say that life is not always fair, but we have accept what is given to us and be happy.
These are hard messages to hear during a worldwide pandemic. It is even harder for me to hear in the midst of all the struggles I have right now. Many of you know that I am taking a break from the hospital and that I have receive a ton of hate on the internet lately. Death threats seem like a daily occurrence. People writing me messages just to tell me that I am a horrible human being for supporting black lives and the LGBTQI community.
How can I not love and support everyone? Even in the midst of despair and darkness, Saint Paul told the Romans that “love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10) How could I deny them love and expect God to love me?
As a genderfluid pansexual priest I can no more refuse anyone love than I can refuse loving myself. And for many years I did try to refuse loving myself. I tried to refuse love to everyone else. And it made me a bitter and hate-filled person. It nearly destroyed my marriage and it did destroy many friendships.
Only when I accepted who I was, was I able to love others. The thoughts of suicide started to go away and the world seemed much brighter. Sharing love with others has helped me heal as an individual. So we could all learn a lesson that life should be about loving others rather than hating them. We should all learn to accept that all things are not fair, but life is worth living.
Then and only then can we truly say that we are Christians.
God loves you all and so do I!
As I have been going about this week, I have noticed an increase in animosity and vitriol. This tension is always felt for me this time of year, especially around the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. This is the moment that the America that I had been raised to know for me died.
You see, up until that point I had been taught that a lot of our sins had been atoned for. Our past with racism, and xenophobia was just that in the past, and we were this melting pot utopia that had embraced all of various skin colors, and beliefs. When those 4 planes tore through the sky and like a knife, cut the rose colored glasses off the country and showed our hatred and intolerance once again this time toward people of the Muslim faith, and has since cascaded and renewed our in-sensitivities that had been lying dormant against people of color, migrant communities, and LGBTQI individuals.
As I grew in my faith and in my call, I was asked to challenge my own biases. In that I realized that even though I had known Muslim friends and colleagues, there was still a resentment inside of me and I needed to do the work to release this, and part of that was praying and asking God to forgive those fundamentalists that attempted to speak for an entire community of faith and damage all of our hearts and minds. It wasn’t until then was I truly free and could look at 9/11 and truly honor those we lost.
The readings this week teach us this hard lesson. Sirach says that “vengeance is the Lords” and we who “attempt to exact vengeance” will lose the ability to seek forgiveness for ourselves. For how can we seek the very thing that we will not give to others who come to us seeking it.
That is the real test, can we forgive others for how they hurt us? That does not mean forgetting the pain, and what they did, but forgiveness is letting go and releasing that pain. It frees us from those chains of anger and vitriol, and brings us to a place where it is just an event that shapes us.
This week I challenge you to take the time to find those moments in your life. And if you are ready to, tell God that you are ready to forgive. Then let God do the rest.