A few months ago, I walked into a framing store with a large painting of Saint John Paul II, and laid it on the counter. The framer, a kind gentleman in his mid-forties, looked fondly on the image for a few moments, and remarked, “I’m a Catholic boy. Too bad the Church doesn’t want me.” Although it was unspoken, it was obvious he was referring to homosexuality. I asked, “What do you mean the Church doesn’t want you? Of course the Church wants you. God loves you. The Church loves you. This is your home.” He looked happily shocked asked, “What parish do you go to?”
We had a pleasant conversation, and when I returned a few weeks later, I greeted him and he exclaimed, “You remembered my name!” We again entered into a warm conversation and I soon noticed his eyes were becoming moist with tears. He asked, “Can I hug you?” “Absolutely!” I replied, and he walked around the counter and we embraced like brothers. I called over to my young son who was shopping with me, and said, “Give him a hug, too, buddy!” My boy wrapped his little arms around the man’s legs and mine. Driving home, I thanked God for the meeting, because I know I had encountered Christ in this man. Those brief moments with him were the highlight of my day. He even sent me a message online to show how he framed the same painting of Saint John Paul II for his house!
-Jason Evert, "Love is Not Hate"