Note: This post was originally a sermon in All Inclusive Ministries’ monthly mass, celebrated on the fourth Saturday of every month at 7:00 p.m. Gospel: Luke 9:51-62. Second Reading: Galatians 5:1, 13-18.
Fr. Gilles Mongeau, SJ
Jesus’ ministry has reached a turning point.
The work of healing, reconciling and teaching has not borne the hoped for fruit;
the genuine conversion of the authorities,
and even of the people he has helped and who follow him, has not happened.
Instead, hatred and resentment and pettiness have continued to thrive around him, even amongst his closest friends.
In the face of such hardness of heart, he realizes
that he must confront the power of sin and violence and hatred
at its root once and for all.
And so as we hear at the beginning of tonight’s gospel,
he sets his face to go to Jerusalem;
there, he will not so much confront the power of the Temple and of Rome,
but rather the power of violence and hatred that is using them
and has ruled the logic of the world for all of human history.
And he will confront that ancient power with the only power that is mightier:
the power of divine love
expressed in a freely given forgiveness that is unconditional.
As he heads towards Jerusalem,
Jesus is plotting sustained and unconditional forgiveness
as the gift of humanizing others
and restoring them to right relationship with God and each other.
In the weeks since the shooting in Orlando, we have witnessed, for the first time,
the eyes of society and the Church at large being opened in a radical way
to the reality of the hatred, both subtle and flagrant,
which the LGBT community faces every day;
we LGBT people here in the comfortable bubble of downtown Toronto
have been awakened once again to the fact
that our reality is not shared by the vast majority of LGBT people in the world. Political leaders and some Church leaders have begun to speak
of the need to move beyond mere acceptance and tolerance
to genuine listening and understanding.
This is a genuinely good start.
We have also heard people in the LGBT community
and among our friends state over and over again
that we will not return hatred for hatred, or violence for violence;
we have taken our stand on love.
that decision to love in the face of hatred and violence is our turning point.
Because the path we say we have chosen
is a difficult and spiritually demanding one.
Just look at the reaction of the disciples
as they make their way to Jerusalem with Jesus.
At the first sign of opposition from the Samaritan village,
James and John want to take their revenge with fire from heaven.
All of us,
whether we care to admit it or not,
have grown up in the midst of the cesspool of resentment
and have been infected with the virus of revenge.
if we are honest with ourselves,
we must recognize that in each of our hearts
there resides the same seed of violence and hatred that fuels those who persecute us;
and it threatens to break free and grow at the slightest provocation. We can rationalize it, point the finger at the hurt we have suffered, justify ourselves by affirming the justice of our cause,
but the reality is that if we really want to love,
if we really want to respond to violence and hatred
with genuine compassion and love,
then we must undertake the hard work of allowing God’s grace
to heal and liberate us from our own resentment and violence.
Like the people along the way who seek to join Jesus
but who continue to hold on to their past — families, the security of home, and so on — we will discover, if we really want to continue on the path of love,
that turning back is tempting,
that holding on to resentments is all too easy and comforting. This is the self-indulgence of the flesh
of which Paul is speaking in the letter to the Galatians:
he isn’t talking about sex, he’s talking about resentment
and the way it enmeshes us in the logic of revenge that runs the world. Genuine love,
the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out into our hearts, that leads us to love of all our neighbours,
whether they persecute us or not,
requires a freedom from resentment and hatred that only God’s grace can give.
The love which God offers us in Jesus
is a powerful political force, but it has its own logic,
the logic of humanizing the enemy instead of demonizing him,
the logic of sustained forgiveness instead of ongoing resentment,
the logic of conversion of hearts,
beginning with our own but shared unconditionally with others.
Over the years,
I have preached often about God’s unconditional love of each one of us;
I don’t do this to be nice, or to make a nice liberal point.
I do it because the Word of God invites us over and over again
to open ourselves to the love that God constantly pours out to us:
and only when we allow ourselves to be aware of this unconditional love,
to truly accept it and savour it,
will we realize that none of the people against whom we might justly feel resentment are really worthy of our dedicating to them
the weight of emotional involvement that resentment and revenge require.
And when that unconditional love frees us,
we are free of the logic of violence and hatred
and can truly restore justice and peace by loving our persecutors.
This is the importance of All Inclusive Ministries.
Four years ago, we set our hands to the plough,
to be a place of welcome for Catholic and Christian LGBT persons and their friends.
We call ourselves a bridge, and a safe space;
but we are called to be much more than that.
We must become,
on this our fourth anniversary,
a training ground for unconditional love that is truly All Inclusive,
a place that invites LGBT persons to grow into a position of such freedom
that we begin to be able to plot not vengeance,
but sustained and radical forgiveness as the gift of humanizing others.
On this our fourth anniversary,
let us ask for the grace to become the community of faith beyond resentment,
the community that makes justice through reconciling and forgiving love,
that God calls us to be as All Inclusive Ministries,
the community that is the Church of Christ labouring with him in all of history.