BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS
4th Sunday of Easter | May 12, 2019
A few years ago, my best friend shared with me that he was gay.
I never truly understood at the time what a difficult revelation this was for him to make.
For I didn’t understand how his sexuality would make him an outsider within his neighborhood, within his culture.
I didn’t understand how his family would initially react. The words said in anger and fear. The long silences and difficult months in which he wasn’t sure what kind of welcome he would receive.
All I knew is that I was home for a weekend from college and he asked if he could bring his boyfriend over to my house.
Now, being a classic male, I casually mention this to my mother in passing a few hours before they are set to arrive.
It is as if I have told her that the Queen of England is stopping by for tea in 20 minutes.
She goes into full-blown hospitality mode.
I am frantically put to work scrubbing toilets, vacuuming carpets and dashing to the store to pick up ingredients. And I am totally confused. It’s my friend. What is all the fuss for? He has been to our house like a million times.
My mother just gives me a look and then another task.
All the while my mom is working on a homemade lasagna because it is my friend’s favorite. My mouth is watering as the smell of bubbling sauce wafts through the house.
The time arrives and my friend walks in with his boyfriend. Both of them enter cautiously only to be met by the whirlwind of my mother who wraps them each in her arms.
I watch my friend visibly relax as the night unfolds.
As they are preparing to leave, he leans close to me and says, “I really wanted your parents to like him. You know. Because….” And he trailed off.
He didn’t need to finish.
Because I suddenly realized what tonight meant for him.
He had always found a home in my family. And tonight he needed to be reassured that the home was still there. That we were still there. Holding him in our hands. Refusing to let him go.
I thought of that night as I reflected on the readings for this weekend.
For I am convinced that my mother and Jesus have a lot in common.
Which is that they take seriously the task that has been given to them to care for the sheep entrusted to their flock.
And it is this task that has been handed on to us, the Church.
The task of ensuring that none of those placed into our hands are ever lost.
The task of ensuring that each person finds a place at our table. Finds home beneath our walls. Finds a warm embrace when they meet us.
The young feminist who is tired of the patriarchy within our Church.
And the transgender kid who just wants to use the bathroom
The recently divorced who is coming to Church alone for the first time
And the teenager who questions whether God is even listening
The young man smoking a joint and checking in with his parole officer
And the undocumented mother who doesn’t speak English
The elderly widow who lives alone, nursing her grief in the silence of her heart.
And the young parents who are exhausted keeping up with their little one.
My friends, this is our commission. To go forth and find our fellow sheep. Walking with them into the pasture of the Lord where all will be fed. Where all will be sheltered. Where all will be loved.
So let’s get moving my friends. A great multitude awaits. Let’s go join them.
May God be Praised.
Artwork by Maximino Cerezo Barredo via source