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Second Sunday of Advent

December 4, 2022
Members of the Global Network for Rainbow Catholics

Today’s Invitation

To celebrate the LGBTQI community: Today we invite you to explore a reorientation to the Church’s teaching on queerness from Jesus’ cross to Jesus’ birth through the work of Paul G. Crowley SJ; engage with Catholic Social Teaching on the Life & Dignity of the Human Person; and embody a faith that does not bully as lived by Sr. Jeannine Grammick and the work of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

Commentary by Heather Angell

Second Sunday of Advent

Reading 1

Isaiah 11:1-10

Then a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse;
from Jesse’s roots, a branch will blossom.
The Spirit of YHWH will rest on you:
a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of counsel and strength,
a spirit of knowledge and reverence for YHWH.
You will delight in obeying YHWH,
and you will not judge by appearances,
or make decisions based on hearsay.
You will treat poor people with fairness
and will uphold the rights of the land’s downtrodden.

With a single word, you will strike down tyrants:
with your decrees you will execute evil people.
Justice will be the belt around your waist,
faithfulness will gird you up.
Then the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the kid;
the calf and lion cub will graze together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together;
the lion will eat hay like the ox.
The baby will play next to the den of the cobra,
and the young child will dance over the viper’s nest.
There will be no harm or destruction anywhere on my holy mountain;
for as waters fill the sea,
so will the land be filled with knowledge of YHWH.
On that day, the root of Jesse
will serve as a symbol to the peoples of the world;
nations will flock to you,
and your home will be a place of honor.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

Response: Justice will flower in their days, and profound peace, till the moon is no more.

O God, with Your judgment and with Your justice, endow the leaders.
They will govern Your people with justice and Your afflicted ones with judgment.
R: Justice will flower in their days, and profound peace, till the moon is no more.

Justice will flower in their days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May they rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.
R: Justice will flower in their days, and profound peace, till the moon is no more.

For they will rescue the poor when they cry out,
And the afflicted when they have no one to help them.
They will have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor they will save.
R: Justice will flower in their days, and profound peace, till the moon is no more.

May their name be blessed forever; as long as the sun their name will remain.
In them will all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations will proclaim their happiness.
R: Justice will flower in their days, and profound peace, till the moon is no more.

Reading 2

Romans 15:4-9

Everything written before our time was written for our instruction,
that we might derive hope from the lessons of patience
and the words of encouragement in the scriptures.

May God, the source of all strength and encouragement,
enable you to live in perfect harmony with one another
according to the Spirit of Christ Jesus,
so that with one heart and one voice,
you may praise the God of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Accept one another as Christ accepted us, for the glory of God.
Christ became a servant of the chosen people
to live out the truth of God’s promise to them,
and at the same time to give the Gentiles
cause to glorify God for showing mercy.
As scripture has it,
“Therefore I will praise you among the nations
and I will sing to Your Name.”


Matthew 3:1-12

At the time John the Baptizer appeared in the desert of Judea,
proclaiming, “Change your hearts and minds,
for the reign of Heaven is about to break in upon you!”
It was John that the prophet Isaiah described when he said,
“A herald’s voice cries in the desert:
‘Prepare the way of Our God,
make straight the paths of God!’ ”

John was clothed in a garment of camel’s hair
and wore a leather belt around his waist.
Grasshoppers and wild honey were his food.
At that time, Jerusalem, all Judea,  and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him.
John baptized them in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.
When he saw that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to be baptized,
John said to them: “You pack of snakes!
Who told you to flee from the coming wrath?
Give some evidence that you mean to reform!
And do not pride yourselves on the claim,
‘Sarah and Abraham are our parents.’
I tell you, God can raise children to Sarah and Abraham from these very stones!

“Even now the ax is laid to the root of the tree.
Every tree that is not fruitful will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I will baptize you in water if you have a change of heart,
but the One who will follow me is more powerful than I.
I am not even fit to untie the sandals of the Coming One!
That One will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire,
whose winnowing fan will clear the threshing floor.
The grain will be gathered into the barn,
but the chaff will be burnt in unquenchable fire.”

The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.



A vision of radical welcome and hospitality

Today’s readings for the second Sunday of Advent set forth a vision of radical welcome and hospitality. They remind us of the eternal promise that the coming Christ makes all things new. We can trace this promise, this new world order, through Isaiah, the Psalms, Paul’s Letter to the Romans and Matthew’s Gospel. Today we continue to prepare the way of the Lord, recognizing that inviting Christ into our lives means turning the world on its head and having an open heart for all that is to come in the coming kingdom.  

On the other side of the liturgical year, we encounter the Cross, which is always looming even as we prepare for the birth of Christ. All Catholics are called to identify and find counsel in the cross. This is an undeniable tenet of the faith. Yet, church teaching inappropriately counsels LGBTQ+ Catholics to identify their sexuality with the cross. In this season of Advent, I offer that the birth of Christ is the appropriate place for LGBTQ+ Catholics to find welcome and rest in hope. The rootedness of Isaiah reminds us that a “bud shall blossom…the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb”.  This form of radical welcome and reversal of oppressive structures speaks to both the societal and personal work of coming out and living as an authentic LGBTQ+ Catholic. 

In Homosexuality and the Counsel of the Cross (2004), Paul G. Crowley, SJ unravels church teaching that LGBTQ+ Catholics should employ Christ’s crucifixion as a model for how to live out their God-given sexual orientation. He summarizes, “In the face of gay Catholic  existence, the Church in Vatican teaching currently offers a stark spiritual counsel: to join one’s sufferings, whatever those may be precisely as a gay person, to the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross and to live a life of sexual renunciation…focused on a blending of those sufferings attendant upon this condition with the Passion of Christ.” (504) Crowley recognizes that the teaching leads LGBTQ+ Catholics to the crucifixion of desires for same sex love. The institutional church offers LGBTQ+ Catholics the cross as a model. Full stop. 

Crowley points out that the “specificity of application” in Church teaching is deeply troubling. It misses out on a, if not the, central component of the Cross – “a suffering love freely accepted and leading toward love”. (508) Counseling LGBTQ+ Catholics to unite their sexuality to the cross creates a “dual-track” for heterosexual and LGBTQ+ Catholics, as if God the creator would create intrinsic suffering (linked to the gift of sexuality) for some but not others. It “presumes a state of celibacy, but does not explain how this can be achieved by someone who does not freely choose it, who does not know a vocation to it.” (516)  One cannot be born into a vow. Institutional church teaching creates a prison for LGBTQ+ Catholics, with no hope other than a life of denial and aestheticism. 

Crowley rightly recognizes that suffering is a part of life for LGBTQ+ Catholics, yet he points out that the suffering of the Cross leads to new life. Church teaching that the Cross is the end of the road for LGBTQ+ Catholics denies us resurrection and joy; we know that the Cross isn’t the end of the story. Crowley recognizes that Jesus’ Cross was an unwarranted punishment and Christ would never knowingly send his children there without the hope of something more, without a whole lot of love and joy on the other side. Today, we celebrate the coming birth, the coming hope, which comes to fruition in the eternal life and hope of the resurrection. This is the joy in which LGBTQ+ Catholics should find themselves and should be counseled to identify with. We remember, also, Paul’s entreaties of “endurance and encouragement” as they can be a much needed life raft for LGBTQ+ Catholics. Paul calls us to “think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice, glorify God.”

Commentary by Heather Angell

Heather Angell teaches high school religion at her alma mater, Central Catholic in Lawrence, MA and is a hospital chaplain in Boston, MA. She holds a BA in Theology from Loyola University Chicago and an MA in Pastoral Ministries from Boston College. Heather has a deep affection for public libraries, tea, and her nephews. She is also a storyteller, a wife and an aspiring ukulele player.

Engage Catholic Social Teaching

LGBTQ+ Justice

Human dignity is the foundation of all Catholic Social Teaching. All other tenets of the tradition rest and build on this one. The USCCB states: “We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.” Without human dignity, we lose our authority, our mandate, to uplift the human spirit and condition. Without human dignity, Catholic Social Teaching is an empty political movement, interested in certain outcomes. It is a political tool, instead of the embodiment of a lived faith. Even basic statements on the human dignity of LGBTQ+ people have become controversial and minimally supported in the institutional Catholic Church. A short statement “God is On Your Side: A Statement from Catholic Bishops Letter to LGBT Youth” was signed by only fourteen United States bishops by January 2021. There are currently 433 active and retired bishops in the U.S., which means only 3% supported a basic statement of dignity for LGBTQ+ youth. The statement recognizes the myriad ways that LGBTQ+ youth are at risk from violence, bullying and suicide. It states, “The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you.” The letter starts with dignity and ends with dignity. It invites Catholics everywhere to celebrate LGBTQ+ youth as children of God and to speak up against the violence and suffering of LGBTQ+ youth. When we recognize dignity, we must also recognize our responsibility to uphold it. Such a simple recognition is the place the institutional church needs to, at the very least, begin. 


A Contemplative Exercise

Reflect on a person you care about in the LGBTQ+ community (maybe that person is you:) Reflect on the qualities you love in this person, what makes them who they are. Remember a time you have observed or learned that this beloved person was made to feel “less than” or was discriminated against, maybe even a time when you had thoughts of judgment or believed them different. 

In your mind, affirm this person for being who God made them to be, wrap them in a warm blanket that does not only tolerate, but celebrates who they are. How might your “endurance and encouragement” affirm this person and celebrate who they are. How might your voice or actions help you to become the one “calling out in the wilderness” of their loneliness or pain, to remind them that they are a beloved child of God, to invite them to the birth of new life with Christ.

A Witness

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SL

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SLAlong with Fr. Robert Nugent, Sr. Jeannine Grammick founded New Ways Ministry in 1977, at a time when “you could not even say the word gay.” She was recently interviewed recently in America Magazine, after Pope Francis sent her a letter celebrating her 50 years of ministry to LGBTQ+ Catholics. When they first founded New Ways, Grammick and Nugent traveled around the country. She remembers that they were “mostly in mother houses of women’s communities or retreat centers…women religious were the first ones in the church to move on the issue of homosexuality.” As a Catholic nun, she was often the first welcoming face many LGBTQ+ Catholics had ever seen in the Church. She walked unafraid alongside LGBTQ+ Catholics, preaching not only tolerance, but acceptance and love. In the late 1990s, Grammick was notified by the Vatican that she was no longer allowed to minister to LGBTQ+ Catholics. Despite these threats to her work and personal vocation, she said she vowed to “continue to tell not only my story with the Vatican, but my story with L.G.B.T. people. I needed to continue to advocate for them because they had no advocate in the institutional church.”  She went from being silenced by the Church to being celebrated. She is truly a modern day John the Baptist, “a voice crying out in the desert”. She shared that her “hope for L.G.B.T. Catholics is that they all feel welcome and comfortable in any parish in the world. That they might feel just as much a part of the church as anyone else.” 

A Community

The Tyler Clementi Foundation

The Tyler Clementi Foundation “was founded by the Clementi family to prevent bullying through inclusion and the assertion of dignity and acceptance as a way to honor the memory of Tyler: a son, a brother, and a friend.”  Tyler was a college student at Rutgers University when he took his own life after cruel cyber-bullying and harassment from his roommate. The Tyler Clementi Foundation works with civic and religious institutions to create and foster atmospheres of acceptance and safety for LGBTQ+ youth. They invited Catholic bishops to sign the “God is on Your Side” statement and published it on their website. Their “True Faith Doesn’t Bully” campaign invites communities of faith to examine their teachings on LGBTQ+ people by recognizing and rejecting “religion-based bullying” of LGBTQ+ persons in their congregations and communities.