I had the honor this past week of working with the Equally Blessed pilgrims as they journeyed to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. These LGBT Catholic families bravely bore witness to a vision of church in which all are welcome, loved, and embraced for the experiences and gifts they offer the Catholic community. It is deeply disappointing the larger community gathered in Philadelphia was not afforded the same opportunity to engage and explore with these pilgrims, too. They were dismissed from giving workshops, rejected from having a presence in the exhibit hall, relegated to a Methodist church across the street, and nearly shut out of the one presentation on “same-sex attraction” that was officially allowed at the meeting.
There is an encounter in the Christian scriptures that has the power to take one’s breath away.
Jesus is invited to the home of a religious leader. A woman, an outcast and sinner, shows up too. Safe to say, she is not invited. In the scene, one of the most poignant in the Gospels, the woman positions herself close to Jesus, washes his feet with her tears (her tears!) and dries them with her hair. It is as if all the moments of this outcast’s life, her sufferings and joys and sins and successes, are collected and reconciled in those tears and given to Jesus in the form of love.
But the host is repulsed by this encounter. Jesus, by authority of his own pure love, invites him to honor her dignity and faith (Luke 7:36-50). We’re not told if the leader is changed by the encounter. Over 2,000 years later, we’re still not sure.