• Stephen Oliver B-M

Queer faith

Jesus looks up at a tree with an outstretched hand, een from the viewpoint of Zaccheus.
Detail from 'Wanna hand?' by Jessie Boston, based on Jesus' call to Zaccheus, Luke 19.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a personal unconditional call to love. The call is to sacrifice all for the Kingdom of God.

It is a strange kind of ‘Good News’ because it is not about getting something but giving up everything - giving everything from the depths of who we are, a gift of sincere transparent love, just as we are, with all our limitations and vulnerability, pure and guileless.

To understand what exactly the kingdom of God might be is difficult to say since its truth was

given to us in parables by Jesus that intentionally have a hidden meaning, story-like metaphors for pointing to the mystery of the presence of God, pointers to the epiphany of ‘that of God-with-us’.

Strangest of all, his parables tell us that in our giving of ourselves, we will become the Gift of

God to ourselves, for having lost all we will find ourselves having gained all, the queer harvest of Love.

Since it is a personal call, it is addressed to us in our uniqueness, to our unique D.N.A. in our

peculiar time and place. In John’s Gospel the call is to obey a new Law, the Law of Love in the manner in which Jesus loved. As Zacchaeus was called to come down from the tree and give a feast, so we are called in our foibles and all so human, too human fallibility to offer Jesus and his friends a feast. In my case, my call is to come with all the liabilities of my ADHD, so destructive yet so creative, so insensitive of place and yet so visionary in what is possible, so aggravating yet charming, to be just impossible!

The Gospel does not call us to greatness but to become the servants of all. He gives us

spectacles of a day beyond the far mountains, the time of the Great Harvest of Love, the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when the hearts of all will be opened. Did we visit the imprisoned, give the cup of water to the thirsty, a room to the stranger in need? What were we doing when God met us in the form of an angel, his presence in the stranger in the everyday moments of our lives?

Queer faith is not queerness per se, but the honesty at the heart of queerness, the abandonment to love in its fleshiness, our response to the gift of Christ in the body that is his flesh, that which is given us in our lover and in the Eucharist. It is not the faith found in Creeds, prayer books and Canon Law of the Church or of Scripture, but the faith that Jesus showed when he took up his Cross and the faith we might have if we have eyes to see him resurrected from the grave.

Jesus draws us to God in and through himself, the kingdom of God immanently present. The

harvest of a life that embraces this immanent love may be poverty, may be a crucifixion but better to lose the World and gain ones soul than be part of the company of wagging fingers that point at him on the Cross, the company of those that taunt him to come down and save himself.

There seems to be a sharp contrast between the Gospel of Jesus and that of the Apostle Paul, since the latter seems preoccupied with a holiness reminiscent of the Pharisees that crucified Jesus, a cleanliness that could not have tolerated being a friend of the prostitutes and revolutionaries of Nazareth. Paul could happily set himself up as judge and risk a sin against the Holy Spirit. However it is not for us to either judge him but we can ask ourselves where we are on our journey of faith, how are we doing on our discipleship of the Way, the path that the early Church found itself following before it called itself Christian.

Queer discipleship is distinctive in that it comes out of the closet, the light of truth come from

‘under a bushel’, the candle of love that is embodied spirit, the light that burns to its demise in a life given for Love.

Here is the measure of our success, the measure of our faith, that our light has been an unconditional ‘Yes’ to the Lord of Life, the Lord of All Creation, It is queer because of its witness to the Truth, the beauty of a human being redeemed by unconditional love, the power of grace at the heart of the Universe, the power at the heart of those who embrace him in faith.

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