It's the paradigm, in my experience and in that of others, for evangelization and for healing. Some friends have been through traumatic transitions from previous callings (whether they are transitions from failed marriages or from some other failed vocation)--they have been touched by God's healing and forgiveness but need the continuing affirmation of strong Christian friendship and fellowship to refresh and reinvigorate their lives in order to move forward. Others may have difficult issues that leave them isolated and even ignored by many who should know better. One very difficult issue is that of persons with same-sex attractions. Many of us who are happily heterosexual need to learn to pay attention to the challenges faced by such persons and to seek to bring them a word of hope, as they struggle to live according to Catholic morality. In my opinion, this area is the most challenging one with which to deal.
As usual, when we give friendship to those with the healthy capacity for friendship, we unwittingly gain back what we give. We also receive affirmation and fellowship in return. I am also convinced that Adonai uses challenging situations in the lives of others to push us to greater growth in compassion and understanding as our minds and hearts are forced to stretch to address issues that are not easy. Clearly, such a life or apostolate is just too much for our puny brains and always too narrow hearts. The only way to do it is to entrust all our acts to Jesus and let him make us a channel of his agape for the other. Then we can learn to relax and just be the friends God created us to be. Even if we do not have a specific road map for a person, we can simply listen and be present. The One who does have the road map will pipe up, sooner or later, as long as we have ears to hear.
Update: One of our readers sends this link to a Wall St. Journal article addressing the issue of Christians' seeking to overcome same-sex attractions. I do not necessarily agree with everything stated or quoted in the article but do find the article of great interest. Please feel free to share your own reactions or cautions about the article in the comment boxes.