Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love? Franciscan Father Mychal Judge asked frequently, according to biographer Michael Ford in his Father Mychal Judge: An Authentic American Hero (NY: Paulist, 2002) (p. 124). Judge asked this as a gay man who came to see his sexual orientation as God's gift to him, a gift to celebrate, and who found it incomprehensible that some people sought to deny those who are gay the chance to live fulfilled lives in loving, committed relationships.
Ford tells us that Mychal Judge was well-known in New York for his ministry to the homeless and hungry, people struggling with addiction problems, those living with AIDS, and LGBT people (pp. 107-139). An anecdote repeatedly told about Judge's ministry indicates that he once saw a homeless woman on the street in winter and gave her his coat, remarking later that she had needed the coat more than he did. A scene in Glen Holsten's 2006 documentary* Saint of 9/11 shows Judge anointing a man dying of AIDS, who asks him, "Does God hate me?" Judge's response: he lifts the man into his arms, kisses him, and rocks him without saying anything at all. Without saying any words.
Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words, Judge's spiritual model Francis of Assisi is said to have told his followers.
Mychal Judge came to the attention of many of us when he went to the burning twin towers on 11 September 2011 to assist and pray with the victims of the horrific violence on that day. He was killed when the South Tower collapsed. As Matt Prigge has noted, Shannon Stapleton's Reuters photo of Judge being carried out of the rubble by four firemen (he was chaplain to the NYC fire department from 1992 to his death) has rightly been called an American Pietà. This photo is the one at the head of this posting.