YAG


    ON THE TOPIC OF RELATIONSHIPS, BODY AND GENDER

A comment on Genesis

In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up--for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground-- then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  [...]

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die."

Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner." So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.

The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken." Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

(Gn 2,4b-10,15-24, NRSV)





QUESTIONS:

What does stand out to you from the text?
What God may be trying to tell us today from the text, and how is it relevant for LGBT people?


General Audience of Pope Francis when he speaks about Marriage

The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together. This is the image of God: love, God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created in order to love, as a reflection of God and his love. And in the marital union man and woman fulfil this vocation through their mutual reciprocity and their full and definitive communion of life.

When a man and woman celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony God as it were “is mirrored” in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is communion too: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of Matrimony: God makes of the two spouses one single life. The Bible uses a powerful expression and says “one flesh”, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: the love of God which is reflected in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore a man leaves his home, the home of his parents, and goes to live with his wife and unites himself so strongly to her that the two become — the Bible says — one flesh.

(General Audience 2 April 2014)

QUESTIONS:

What strikes you from the text?
What makes the marriage of man an woman an image of the Trinity? Do you think that a same-sex couple to be an image of the Trinity as well? 


Enciclical Letter from Pope Benedict XVI "Deus Caritas Est"
 
‘There is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinity, eternity—a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence. Yet we have also seen that the way to attain this goal is not simply by submitting to instinct. Purification and growth in maturity are called for; and these also pass through the path of renunciation. Far from rejecting or “poisoning” eros, they heal it and restore its true grandeur.

This is due first and foremost to the fact that man is a being made up of body and soul. Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united; the challenge of eros can be said to be truly overcome when this unification is achieved. Should he aspire to be pure spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity. On the other hand, should he deny the spirit and consider matter, the body, as the only reality, he would likewise lose his greatness. The epicure Gassendi used to offer Descartes the humorous greeting: “O Soul!” And Descartes would reply: “O Flesh!”.[3] Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united, does man attain his full stature. Only thus is love —eros—able to mature and attain its authentic grandeur.’

(From Pope Benedict XVI’s Encyclical letter “Deus Caritas Est (God is Love)”, 25th Dec 2005)

QUESTIONS:

What strikes you from this text?
Do you see erotic love as a way to unite body and soul?Do you think LGBT people experience erotic love differently than heterosexual and cisgender people? 








            ON THE TOPIC OF EVANGELISATION


From the letter to Timothy

2 Timothy 1 7:14 (NJB): 

God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to our Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner;  but share in my hardships for the sake of the gospel, relying on the power of God who has saved us and called us to be holy -- not because of anything we ourselves had done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time,but it has been revealed only by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus. He has abolished death, and he has brought to light immortality and life through the gospel, in whose service I have been made herald, apostle and teacher. That is why I am experiencing my present sufferings; but I am not ashamed, because I know in whom  I have put my trust, and I have no doubt at all that he is able to safeguard until that Day what I have entrusted to him. Keep as your pattern the sound teaching you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

With the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, look after that precious thing given in trust.


The Joy of The Gospel
Evangelii Gaudium bits:

1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

2. The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

3. I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.[1]

21: The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples felt it as they returned from their mission (cf. Lk 10:17). Jesus felt it when he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and praised the Father for revealing himself to the poor and the little ones (cf. Lk 10:21). It was felt by the first converts who marvelled to hear the apostles preaching “in the native language of each” (Acts 2:6) on the day of Pentecost. This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present. The Lord says: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1:38).

10: The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others”.[4] When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfilment. For “here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means”.[5] Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ”.[6]

23: The Church’s closeness to Jesus is part of a common journey; “communion and mission are profoundly interconnected”.[20] In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people (Lk 2:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of “an eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tongue and tribe and people” (Rev 14:6).

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If you want to read all Evangelii Gaudium, go here





            ON THE TOPIC OF 1 ROMANS 1:18-2:1


For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them. Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 


Regarding the goodness or not of same-gender sexual relationships and marriage, you can find here too opposite views on the great debate: 

     Justin's view  (sideA reformed view - pro marriage for LGBT people) 
     Ron's  view (sideB traditional view - against marriage for LGBT people) 


Regarding the concrete passage above, on Romans, see also the commentary from James alison. A Catholic reading of Romans 1.



 




      
                    ON THE TOPIC OF AUTHENTICITY 


Inner Self

"The inner self is precisely that self which cannot be tricked or manipulated by anyone, even by the devil. [The inner self] is like a very shy wild animal that never appears at all whenever an alien  presence is at hand, and comes out only when all is perfectly peaceful, in silence, when he is untroubled and alone. He cannot be lured by anyone or anything, because he responds to no lure except that of the divine freedom."

— Thomas Merton: The Inner Experience, page 5.



Worshiping the false self in place of God

“After all, what is your personal identity? It is what you really are, your real self. None of us is what he thinks he is, or what other people think he is, still less what his passport says he is... And it is fortunate for most of us that we are mistaken. We do not generally know what is good for us. That is because, in St. Bernard’s language, our true personality has been concealed under the ‘disguise’ of a false self, the ego, whom we tend to worship in place of God.”

—Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe Harcourt & Brace, 1949, p. 349


The language of the body

Man and woman carry on in the language of the body that dialogue which, according to Genesis 2:24,25, had its beginning on the day of creation. This language of the body is something more than mere sexual reaction. As authentic language of the persons, it is subject to the demands of truth, that is, to objective moral norms. Precisely on the level of this language, man and woman reciprocallyexpress themselves in the most profound way possible tothem...Man and woman express themselves in the measure of the whole truth of the human person.

-- Bl. John Paul II, Theology of the Body, Aug. 22, 1984


“Male and female he created them”

People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed.

- Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Curia, 21/12/12



Original sin and natural law

James Alison explains that there are two positions that follow from the different conceptions of the original sin and of grace:

A - What Trent understood (rightly or wrongly to be the "Reformed" position: "[H]uman beings are so depraved in our nature that we cannot learn anything true from ourselves, from what is around us, or from waves of change in society. The unique access we have to truth is through Revelation, and wherever there is a conflict between the apparent truth known naturally and Revelation, then it is Revelation which wins out, since our corrupted nature cannot serve as a criterion for truth." This position is what (rightly or wrongly) the council of Trent understood to be position of the Reformation.

B - The Catholic position is more nuanced. "[E]ven though human beings are gravely damaged in our natures, yet something can indeed be known, even though it be with much difficulty and by sorting through many misconceptions, concerning what is true starting from ourselves and what surrounds us. Furthermore, when there is a conflict between apparent truth known naturally, and Revelation, the apparent truth known naturally is indeed capable of acting in the role of criterion for our knowledge of divinely revealed truth." This is what Catholic Theology speaks of "natural law".

C - Under the "Reformed" teaching there is "no possibility of our learning anything authentic concerning, for example, whether the homosexual inclination is a defect in an intrinsically heterosexual being, or whether it is something which just is like that. The only thing we could do would be to insist on the characterisation deduced from revelation"

D - Within the Catholic teaching however, we should accept " the possibility that we human beings might reach, through a difficult path, one interwoven with many false leads, the understanding that what seemed to be a defect in something is not. Rather it is merely a normal occurrence within created matter, with its own tendency to flourishing."

- James Alison, various essays (http://www.jamesalison.co.uk)


The Spirit that is from God

The scripture says

“No one has ever seen,
no one has ever heard,
no one has ever imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.”

But God has shown these things to us, through the Spirit, because the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. Is is not the case that no one can know the things of a person, except the spirit which is in him or her? In the same way no one can know the things of God except the Spirit of God.

Now, what we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we might understand the things that God has freely given us; and of these we speak not in words that can be taught by human wisdom, but as being taught by the spirit, comparing spiritual things in a spiritual way. 

The person that focuses only on his or her physical nature do not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God. This person is foolish, and cannot understand spiritual discernment. The spiritual person discerns all things, and him or herself is examined by no one. For who understands the mind of Christ, or can make him agree? but we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:9-16


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