by Nathan Hess, Carthagena, Ohio Companion and Interim Co-director of LGBT Ministry
How are we as Precious Blood people called to respond to this thoughtful and pastoral directive from Pope Francis? Do we fully believe that God endorses the existence of all people with love? Many of us have a person or group of people that we love to hate…or at least like to blame for our problems. In our rush to blame, we can easily overlook the person or persons we are blaming.
I volunteer as one of fifteen board members on a Cincinnati neighborhood district community council. We provide guidance to the city regarding zoning, development, safety, use of public funds, etc., and from time to time we have board members at opposite ends on an issue. It has at times become heated, with finger pointing and blaming. With tensions high, feelings hurt and egos bruised, I sometimes need to step in and remind my colleagues that we are all around the table for the same purpose: we all care about our community and want our neighborhoods to be a great place to live, work, and enjoy life. By nature, we will not always see eye to eye, but if we take one step back to recall that we are on the same team, it is amazing how the tension melts away and respect of differences is embraced.
Sometimes gay people are blamed for an erosion of family values. When this occurs, a small benign percentage of the human population is singled out as a grave threat to society. Are we able to take a step back to see that all of us, regardless of orientation, share the same desire for stable and loving relationships? We all have the same goal: healthy, loving families. What else do we have in common? Spending a little time considering the person, as Pope Francis suggests, may lead us to realize just how much we are alike. Human fear of another who is different is a mystery in itself worth considering. Remember, even the Holy Family challenged the notion of what is acceptable.
What are the Precious Blood family values that we are called to live by? Whenever I hear someone refer to the ”gay lifestyle,” I am tempted to stop them and ask exactly what is different. Spend one day with me, and you will see that my lifestyle is filled with the same ordinary concerns and routines as any other bachelor. To take all the everyday wonderful things about me and reduce it to the sexual orientation given to me before birth would be terribly unfortunate. More than unjust, it robs me of my dignity and personhood. My 35 year old gay man lifestyle is probably about as non-threatening as they come! In taking a step back and considering the other person, what was perceived as threat melts away.
Pope Francis reminds us that we are all God’s beloved children and that when we enter into the mystery of the human being by respecting one another and honoring our differences, existing in harmony becomes possible. From the words of Pope Francis and stories of my own life and experiences, Precious Blood spirituality is brought to life. It is the blood of Life that connects all of us with the Blood of Christ. Our diverse lives and experiences gift one another with truth and understanding that we could not possibly gain on our own. Bonded in the blood of Christ and renewed in Spirit, we strengthen and nourish each other in our common hope for the fulfillment of the reign of God.