The Joyful, Fiery Gospel
'God infuses the soul and sets it on fire with the Spirit of Love.' St. John of the Cross
My heart burns with hope. After a week enkindled with story after story of God's healing love in the lives of persons wounded by homosexuality, I am a believer: the fiery love of Jesus overturns the claims of those who insist that 'homosexuals cannot change.' The Gospel truth is vastly superior. Jesus sets persons captivated by same-gender longing free: free from the shaming events and beliefs that inspired the inclinations, free from the sensational habits that enslave one to lust, free from the Pharisee and free from the secular bully who wants to impose chronic homosexuality as one's destiny.
Our third Restored Hope Network in Portland OR started on the Feast of the Sacred Heart: the devotion to Jesus' fiery, merciful heart that inspired St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy (a much-loved devotion at Desert Stream Ministries.) Among persons emerging out of same-sex attraction who testified of steady, inspired progress in chastity and gender complementarity, I witnessed over and over the power of Jesus' sacred heart: the fiery love that surpasses all other loves, an intimacy so profound and deeply personal that one is provoked by Love Himself to surrender all and begin again with Christ Himself as one's guide. Is this not the fruit of the joyful Gospel that Pope Francis, quoting Benedict, extolled when he described that Gospel 'not as an ethic or lofty idea but…a Person', who offers our wounded lives 'an open horizon and decisive direction?'
As I listened to dozens of persons gathered from around our country and beyond, I witnessed this flame of Love that in truth had opened their horizons and granted them a clear direction. That is nothing less than a series of diverse encounters with the One who makes all things new! This reflection on the Sacred Heart offers us a glimpse of what happens in the hearts of men and women, singed by homosexuality, who discover the greater passion of God's all-consuming love for them.
'What strike me most in contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus are the flames which consume and surround it. These mysterious flames cannot be contained even in that burning Heart; they escape through the wound, pass around the Cross and among the thorns, penetrating it completely. In a word, it is a burning heart, an inflamed heart. And what is this sacred fire that consumes the Heart of Jesus? IT IS THE FIERY LOVE HE HAS FOR US. "I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled." (LK 12:49)' Father Martin Berlioux
I witnessed the kindling of that fire during our week together. A huge log was thrown into the fire by the premier (at our conference) of a new feature film expertly directed by my friend David Kyle Foster. Entitled 'Such Were Some of You,' the film features a dozen stories of men and women whose gay destiny was consumed by the fire of divine love. I recall Christie, a brilliant gender-confused women whose rowing coach at Stanford invited her into Christ and a whole new life, Jim who at 10 began imitating porn films with his elementary school buddies and whose life was changed by a friend imploring him to enter into her community of faith where Jesus was transforming lives, Maite whose Catholic upbringing was undermined by sex-play with an older girl that led to everything but Jesus. Desperate, she attended a Spirit-filled Catholic meeting that was the beginning of a whole new life.
I write this for my fellow Catholics in particular: if we want the Sacred Heart of Jesus to blaze and light up the darkened lives of those we love most, then we must mobilize our communities to provide living, breathing, winsome onramps for those stumbling around in our confusing, demonizing landscape. 'Such Were Some of You' features more evangelicals than Catholics because frankly, evangelicals have done a better job than Catholics in providing life-transforming communities for young people turning from homosexual sin. Let's catch up! We have a profound inheritance in our moral understanding and most importantly, in our reliance upon the One who makes all things new through His Body, broken and offered to us.
Let us renew our efforts to create space in our parishes for healing community: places of actual encounter between His sacred heart and the broken hearts of persons becoming conformed to an image other than Christ. Your children and theirs will thank you for such an effort. Take heart. His sacred heart is ablaze and effectual in love to transform persons with SSA.
'How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts.' Pope Francis (EG 261)