Preparation and prayer were two of the central themes of what made Advent and even Christmas so special this year. As Catholics, we prepared throughout Advent for the liturgical season of Christmas, when we remember the birth of Jesus Christ. This year, with all that is happening in our world, we looked with hope at the despair happening abroad.
The war in the Middle East has reminded us of a story as old as the Bible itself, while the war in Ukraine continues to claim lives. Pope Francis has spoken several times about both conflicts and reiterated calls for peace. These wars have dimmed the light in our world, perhaps leading us to believe that darkness will prevail. However, we realize that even in the darkest of times, we celebrate the birth of Christ and the promise of hope in the future through the story of Christmas.
For Mary and Joseph, there was no place to stay, no idea of what to do next, but to trust in God that he would provide. The gift of Christ’s birth is one of the most human and tangible signs of God’s love for creation. Brought into the world in a manger, God gave himself in human form. This hope was recognized by the world, and gave a new hope for all humanity.
As outcasts with nowhere to go, I imagine that Mary and Joseph wondered if God was looking for them. LGBTQ Catholics have often experienced the same: moments where we feel we’ve been left out. But last month, the Holy Father gave us a sign that God is indeed for LGBTQ people. My heart is full following the Vatican declaration that allows church ministers to bless same-sex couples. As we journey through this Christmas season, let us continue to remember that God will always provide hope in a dark world.
As an advocate for LGBTQ Catholics, it is my hope and prayer that the recent Vatican declaration may bring queer Catholics, many of whom have felt excluded from the church, back into communion with fellow believers. In 2024, let us go forth and remember that more blessings are to come, whether that be the birth of our savior, the gift of salvation or the hope that one day all of God’s children will be in full communion with the church.