From Stones to Men

I was reading something tonight from St. John Chyrsostom that recalled to mind the story of the Prodigal Son we heard in the Gospel reading for today. The Parable of the Prodigal Son always moves me when its read at Mass, for within its tale I see my own journey: I left my Father’s house, believing I would find happiness my own way, but found myself in the swine pits of the world’s view of happiness. Just as the Gospel says of the Prodigal Son, when I realized I was suffering in the swine pit, I finally “came to my senses,” and then made the journey back home to my Father.

When one is caught in a life filled with sexual pleasures, it’s nigh on impossible to see clearly. As C. S. Lewis once said, indulgence brings fog. This is something the Church Fathers always said too: sexual pleasures cloud the mind from seeing things rightly. This clouded vision is so hard to penetrate that it seems that God’s usual tool in such things is to bring suffering as a severe mercy into a person’s life.

As I read this bit from St. John Chrysostom tonight, I thought of all of the parents who I’ve met, who ask me what they should do after their child came out as a gay man or woman and left the Church behind. Usually, parents want to somehow find some sort of plan or program that will bring their child back home, and quickly. What I always tell them is to focus on loving their child, and to wait on the Lord.

We’re told by St. Paul that “love is patient.” Usually we interpret that as being understanding of our friends and family, to forbear with their particular shortcomings. But I think part of the patience of love is waiting. We see this in Christ’s patient pursuit of us:

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Icons and paintings of this scene always tend to picture a door with no handle. The door Jesus knocks upon, the door of the human heart, only opens up from within. He never forces himself upon us. He invites, he knocks, he woos, he loves.

And he waits.

stand-at-the-door-and-knock

The passage I read from St. John Chyrsostom today resonated with this patient call of love:

So then let us also deal with the heathen sort: with condescension, with love. For love is a great teacher, and able both to withdraw men from error, and to reform the character, and to lead them by the hand unto self-denial, and out of stones to make men.

Love: out of stones, it makes men. Love is what brought me home to my Heavenly Father. In the fullness of time, God helped me “come to my senses” through the chastisement he brought into my life. Just before Jesus says he knocks at the door, the Lover of our Soul says,

Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.

It was suffering that caused me to heed his knock. It was love that shattered the hard rocks of my heart that prevented the seed of his love to grow. It was the loving chisel of his hand that made me a man from the stone of my heart, hardened as it was to the core by sexual immorality.

Parents, be patient. Be loving, be not afraid, and as the Psalmist says, wait for the Lord, and pray that by your love, their stony hearts will be broken, and so that they will come home.

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5 thoughts on “From Stones to Men

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I see the Holy Spirit at work & how wonderful is God, so gentle in his teachings & reveals to us when we are open & in His Grace.

  2. I am trying, but the anger and sadness are so strong. Love is not what it used to be. This new thing, love, seems so inauthentic. I know you are right. I am just lost as a parent.

    • Dear Fanofmore, thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry you’re going through so much anger and sadness, and that you’re feeling lost as a parent. I think God is very patient with us, and longs to accompany us on our journey through life, without condemning us for feeling very legitimate emotions.

      I’m curious what you mean when you say, “love is not what it used to be…this new thing, love, seems to inauthentic.”

      Perhaps you could explain that more, if you feel so inclined.

      God bless you,

      Dan

      • Thank you for asking. It is 2 years now and it follows me like a cloud but I see the son more now, the sun and the Son. My son is a very young so I remember him as ann innocent child. Love used to be expressed in support, and now that can’t be the same. While being loving to people of same sex attraction, to have it in my son has been a great sadness to me and his arrogance about it has made me angry. Loving your children is very pure and natural in early days. Now it is more of a choice but the transition is not easy and it surprises me that it is difficult. I see now that I have to seek to love my son more like Christ does. Christ is permitting me to suffer this loss of innocence so that I can grow. I wish he hadn’t let this be the way but his plans are always better. I will wait. The Desire of the Everlasting hills and your writing helps. Thank you and may God be with you in your ministry.

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