God's Dream for You 2021-2-28 Fr. Roberto Lent2
Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent – Year A
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Parish, Los Angeles, CA
February 28, 2021
Title: God’s Dream for You
Theme: God’s dream for us is to be transformed by his love.
Readings: Genesis 12:1-4a; 2Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9
I would like to begin today with a question: What is the most powerful force in the universe?
Is it gravity? Is it electromagnetism? Is it nuclear fusion? If you do not know what those last two forces are, that’s okay because I don’t either, but I understand that they are very powerful forces in our universe. However, I would say that the most powerful force in the universe is…love! That’s right, love. Why would I say that? Well, let me read a very important and powerful scripture to you that leads me to that conclusion. It is from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, Chapter 1: “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (vss. 15-17).
Did you catch that last phrase? “In him all things hold together.” I believe what Paul is saying is that Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the glorious and risen Lord of the universe, somehow holds the entire universe together. In other words, Jesus holds together all the billions of stars and galaxies, all the planets and black holes, all the gravity, electromagnetism and nuclear fusion that exist, as well as all the spiritual beings and forces in the universe that we don’t even know about. Now that is power!
So, what power does Jesus use to hold the universe together? I don’t think it is simply a physical power or a mental power. I think it is a spiritual power; I believe it is the power of love. Jesus uses love to hold the entire universe together. Looking at it another way, the Bible says that God is love (1John 4:8); therefore, because God created the universe, then God’s love fills every inch of this universe he created, and Colossians tells us that God holds it all together…through Jesus and through his love.
Now, I have a second question for you that is related to the first question: What is God’s dream for you? I.e., what does God want for you more than anything else? We could spend a lot of time discussing that question, but let me save us all time and tell you what I think it is. God wants, more than anything else, for you to be transformed by his love. In other words, God wants to fill you and transform you with the same love that holds the universe together. And, to me, that is what today’s Gospel is all about. In this very familiar gospel story, Jesus is transfigured so that his love, power and glory as the Son of God are revealed and radiate out from him; that same love, power and glory that are his as the image of the invisible God through whom and for whom all things were made; that same love, power and glory of his that holds the entire universe together. Now, this Gospel is not about Jesus trying to impress his apostles or us; it is about how God wants to transfigure us, in other words, transform us in the same way so that his love, power and glory radiate in us and through us just like they radiated in and through Jesus at his Transfiguration.
Again, God wants to transform us by his love, but the problem is that, most of the time, you and I don’t want to be transformed by God, we just want to be tweaked. We think, “I’m not such a bad person, I’m doing okay. I just need a little tweaking here and there.” Well, today is the second part of this five-week preaching series entitled “Unbound – Freedom in Christ.” Last week I mentioned that we are going to go through the Five Keys of the Unbound Ministry model, and my hope is that, as we go through these five keys, we will all realize that we need transformation and not just tweaking, and that we will actually want to be transformed! As I said last week, these Five Keys are five truths that, if we apply them to our lives, will be used by the Lord to set us free from the devil’s lies and attempts to burden and bind us. But much more than that, what I want to say today is that these five scriptural and theologically sound keys or truths help us understand, accept and live our destiny as God’s beloved children, in other words, our destiny of being transformed – and not just tweaked – by God’s love.
I would like to go quickly through the Five Keys of the Unbound Ministry model just to refresh your memories from last week: (1) Repentance and Faith in Jesus. That means we must admit that we are sinners and need his help, and then we have to surrender ourselves in faith to Jesus and start or deepen our relationship with him. (2) Forgiveness. In this key we sincerely have to try to forgive ourselves and forgive others for the harm they have done to us. (3) Renunciation. In this key, we renounce all the ways we have allowed the devil to influence our lives. (4) Authority. Here, we take the authority Jesus has given us and decisively break the devil’s power and influence in our lives. (5) Each of these first four keys prepares us for the fifth key of Receiving the Father’s Blessing which is the transforming love and affirmation God wants to give us as his beloved children.
As much as I wanted to go over those Five Keys with you in order from one to five, today, I am beginning with the fifth and last key because it is the one that I felt fit best with this Gospel of Jesus’ transfiguration. But actually, it turns out to be helpful to start this preaching series with the Fifth Key of the Father’s blessing, because it helps us to see that the goal of the Five Keys of Unbound is the same as God’s dream for us that I mentioned earlier: to be transformed by God’s love. The Five Keys of Unbound are simply concrete, important steps that God can use to transform us.
To me, the transfiguration of Jesus provides us a snapshot of what we will look like in heaven: we will be so transformed by God’s love, grace and glory that we will radiate just like Jesus at his transfiguration – that is God’s dream for us and that is our goal as Christians. The thing is, that transformation begins here in this life, and it does not happen all at once. It takes time; in fact, it takes all of our lives. For us as Catholics, our transformation begins with our baptism where God calls us his beloved son or daughter just as he said to Jesus in today’s Gospel. From our baptism, we continue our transformation through receiving the other sacraments, through prayer, Scripture, gathering with the community at Mass, serving others and all the other ways we allow God’s love into our hearts.
However, as we all know, in spite of having all the great resources and opportunities our Catholic faith offers us to be transformed, and, in spite of our best efforts, we still fall short of doing God’s will in our lives, and sometimes we allow the devil to lead us away from God. We can find ourselves stuck, burdened and bound by our own mistakes or by the hurtful things we have experienced from others.
And, even if we are faithful and faith-filled Catholics, there are always areas in our lives that we have not completely surrendered to the Lord and/or wounds that have not been completely healed. Our transformation as God’s beloved children can only proceed to the extent we have given ourselves over to God. This is where the Unbound Model of ministry can help us: by removing the barriers to God’s love in our lives and by helping us receive the healing we need from the wounds we carry.
So, during the coming weeks, I will be speaking about the other four keys of Unbound in more detail beginning next week with the First Key of Repentance and Faith. I will invite you to join me in applying the first four keys to our lives so that we can eventually experience the Fifth Key of the Father’s blessing – the freedom, power, love, joy and peace – that God wants to give us as his beloved children. Then we too, like Jesus, will be transfigured and transformed.
Once again, I would like to end this homily as I did last week, leading you through a prayer from Neal Lozano’s book from the chapter on the Father’s blessing. Please stand if you wish and repeat after me…
thank You for sending Jesus // and showing me the way home to You.//
Help me to open myself to You. // Please bless my life.//
As I identify with Christ, // I can hear Your words spoken over me: //
“You are my child, whom I love:// with you I am well pleased.” //
In Christ I receive this blessing—// and every spiritual blessing You have for me. //
Thank You, Father, // for knitting me together in my mother’s womb,//
for calling me by name // and for having a special plan for my future.//
Your works are wonderful!// Amen.
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