Sunday, May 26, 2013

Trinity Sunday: God's embrace... and ours

It's Trinity Sunday again, one of my favourite Sundays of the year, because I like to think about the persons of God in relationship with each other, and with us.

When I was a teenager, I saw a whimsical short film called Jesus B.C., in which God was "Dad," Jesus was "Chris," and the Holy Spirit was a beautiful black woman referred to as "Grace." I wish I could find it and watch it again (I have tried, but can't track it down even in this digital age). "Dad" seemed to be the CEO of creation, and he had a hilarious archangel butler named Norman, who was having an interesting time reporting back to the boss as different Old Testament biblical stories were occurring (I can still see poor Norman standing under a little umbrella in the pouring rain as Noah's Ark floats past and lightning flashes). I can't even remember the point of the movie, but for me it made the very abstract idea of the Trinity more accessible through the conversations between Dad, Chris and Grace, their love for each other, and their fondness for the crazy humans who kept Norman busy reporting on their latest escapades.

Since then, the idea of God as a relational being has become a stronger and stronger theme in my life: God as tender parent, brother and sister, creator, lover, and inspiration for life. And the stronger this theme becomes, the harder it is to sit still in church -- because God is so much bigger than any one church or faith understands, and God's love is so much more inclusive than our tiny little hearts and  minds can fathom, or our words and faith denomination can express. What I'm seeing is that each faith seems to have a number of rules and regulations, some of them designed by the "people in charge" to keep adherents in line. Unfortunately, those rules and regulations often end up excluding certain people, and when the excluded ones are treated unjustly by the elite (or elect), community breaks down. It's not hard to imagine Chris, Grace, and Dad shaking their heads.

Even though I'm a cradle Catholic (baptized when I was seven days old), I struggle with so many of my church's rules and regulations, and I know I'm not the only one. As a "good Catholic," I am supposed to be unquestioningly obedient to the Magisterium (a patriarchy-flavoured word designating the teaching authority of the Church) which has always scared the heebie-jeebies out of me because it sounds so... I dunno... so inhumane. But the older I get, the more I think that the Magisterium's insistence on unquestioning obedience is one of those things that prevents the true relationship and true community of the Trinity's embrace from taking hold of our hearts -- and our world. People expected to be unflinchingly loyal often aren't allowed to be honest about how they feel under that obedience, or to ask questions.

If the Catholic Magisterium wasn't quite such a misogynistic, power-hungry, male-dominated human institution stuck on enforcing some pretty archaic man-made rules, but rather, was a broad-minded community made up of men AND women of every race, creed, social strata, sexual orientation and state of life, it would be easier to follow. And if it would take Jesus' radical teachings to heart and live his Gospel of care for the poor and marginalized, I would jump on the bandwagon wholeheartedly. But at the moment, I'm standing firmly on the curb as the parade goes by because I have tons of questions that the Magisterium is choosing to ignore.

The most recent: on my birthday (Thursday) and his 15th anniversary as a priest, Father Gary Meier came out of the closet as a gay celibate servant of the people of God in the American Roman Catholic Church. He had previously published an anonymous book about being a gay priest, because he was afraid of the consequences of being honest. But now he has spoken out in compassion for other gay Catholics, priests and laity alike, and the Magisterium is suddenly paying attention in a very Magisterium-like way, focused on its rules about sexual ethics rather than on the honesty and bravery of one man.

And so, there are thousands of other priests, gay and straight, afraid to speak up, that aren't under the Magisterium's watchful eye. I know some of them, and love them, and honestly, their sexual orientation doesn't matter. They are good and faithful servants of the servants of God. So my question is, why is the Church, which insists it descends directly from Jesus, so hung up on sexual orientation and other such things? Jesus certainly wasn't. He was about setting people free!

The Trinity's watchful eyes focus on love, and on community. So what would the Trinity say about what Father Gary has done? I suspect they would rejoice that he has finally been able to speak the truth of who he is, and perhaps even celebrate the fact that he is taking a stand for Catholics who feel judged by the Magisterium because of their God-given sexuality. In fact, I can't imagine that the Trinity gives a hoot about whether any of us are gay or straight, Christian or Muslim, green or purple, as long as we are good and faithful.

In my younger years, I'll admit that I felt uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality, simply because the gay people I knew couldn't be open about it so that I could learn that it was different, but okay. When I was growing up, gays were mistreated and made fun of, so how could anyone be open or honest? However, as society began to acknowledge that heterosexuals weren't the only authentic lovers on the block, things changed. When some of my friends came out of the closet, they challenged my archaic Catholic understanding of homosexuality as Sodom and Gomorrah's evil (I now wonder if those legendary places weren't examples of other sorts of iniquity like slavery, genocide, racism, and unbridled capitalism). My gay friends are good people who have converted me, making me see that sexual orientation is like all those other things that make people different from one another -- differences God created to enrich humanity.

God created the world and each of us, and if we believe what the book of Genesis tells us, God calls everything good, embracing everything and everyone in a love that's beyond our understanding. Grace, Dad, and Chris just want us to love, to be happy, to know the goodness of the Trinity, and not to judge or exclude each other because of our differences.

So if we want to grow in the image of the Trinity, in love and community, we need to embrace each other's differences, too.

Thank you, Holy Trinity, 
for molding creation in your image and likeness. 
What an incredible being You are, 
full of diversity -- and unity.
Open our minds and hearts to the many ways You are manifest in all those around us.
Help us to see You in everyone we meet, 
and to welcome them as You will one day welcome us all.

1 comment:

  1. That's a sermon I'd come to church to hear. I love it!


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