St. Dominic Catholic Church

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Unstoppable Love 2022-1-30 Fr. Roberto



Homily for 4th Sunday Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic Church, Los Angeles, CA
January 30, 2022

Title: Unstoppable Love
Theme: God’s love is unstoppable, and we are called to imitate his unstoppable love in our lives.
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; 1Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30

Imagine being a 29-year-old single woman and adopting an 11-year-old girl who had serious behavioral problems because the girl had been abused by her parents, then by her relatives, and then had passed through eight different foster homes in 8 years. Or, imagine adopting a 15-year-old boy who was labeled as mentally ill, emotionally damaged, developmentally delayed and a juvenile delinquent. Now, imagine adopting and raising both of them, and, in addition to that, adopting and raising two other teenagers with serious behavioral problems. That is what a woman named Dayna Bennett did in the early 2000’s here in Southern California. By the year 2010, she was raising, by herself, four traumatized and difficult teens who were at that time 18, 16, 15 and 14. Now that is love! That is a love that truly bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. That is a love that is unstoppable. That is God’s love. And because Dayna Bennett allowed God to use her as a channel of his unstoppable love, today, her four adopted kids are on their own and doing pretty well; two of them are even married. 

I am sure that many of us can remember the national news story on October 2, 2006 when a man named Charles Roberts shot ten Amish schoolgirls, aged 6 to 13, in an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, killing five of them. He then killed himself. Within hours of the shootings, members of that same Amish community visited the home of the shooter to comfort his widow, children and parents. One Amish man held the killer’s sobbing father in his arms for an hour to console him. The Amish told the killer’s family that  they forgave him, and they offered to help his family in whatever way they could. A few days later, about 30 members of that Amish community attended the killer’s funeral, and then invited the killer’s family to attend the funerals for their girls. The Amish also set up a charitable fund to help the family of the shooter with their financial needs.
Once again, that is love. That is a love that truly bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things, and, I would add, that forgives all things. That is a love that is unstoppable. That is God’s love. I am sure I could not have done what Dayna Bennett did or what the Amish community did, and I hope these two stories inspire us and challenge us today to look into our own hearts and ask ourselves, “What kind of love do I have in my heart?” 

That is exactly what today’s second reading about love from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians should do as well. It is one of the most famous scriptures in the entire Bible and is probably used at 90% of Christian weddings, and, for good reason: because it is the kind of love couples want to have for each other in their marriage. But the love that Paul describes so poetically and powerfully today is not just for married couples. Paul did not write that chapter in his letter to the Corinthians to be read at a wedding; he wrote it to the entire community of Corinthians to be read at Sunday Mass, just as it was read for us today. 

So, Paul is challenging each one of us here to love; not just with a romantic “ooh baby, baby” kind of love; not just with an easy love that we give to someone who is nice to us. Paul is telling us to have a love that is patient and kind – even to jerks who don’t deserve it! Paul is saying our love should not be jealous; that means it should not be possessive or clingy or domineering or demanding. Paul is challenging us to have a love that is not pompous or inflated; in other words, a love that is not always about me and my needs and my wants, a love that is not always about how I look and what people think of me. Paul wants us to have a love that does not seek its own interests but is always looking out for others and their interests and their needs. 

Paul is saying that true love is not quick-tempered, and that it does not brood over injury; that is, true love is a love that does not lash out and say hurtful things; it does not hold grudges or seek revenge – even in our thoughts! Paul wants us to have a love that rejoices with the truth and, therefore, a love that does not rejoice with lies or gossip, criticisms or judgments; a love that does not exclude other political parties, other religions, cultures, or races. He wants us to have a love that does not exclude others because of their immigration status or social or economic class or sexual orientation. Paul is teaching us that we must strive to have a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

That kind of love is God’s love. That kind of love is unstoppable. And that kind of love, my brothers and sisters, is really, really hard, isn’t it? It is a love that involves vulnerability, forgiveness, suffering, sacrifice and gut-wrenching emotions at times, doesn’t it? I am sure that, at times, Dayna Bennett wanted to give up, wanted to get rid of those kids of hers, wanted someone else to take them from her. Likewise, I am sure that those Amish people at times had to struggle to overcome anger, hatred, bitterness, a desire for revenge, depression and a sense of hopelessness. I am sure it was not easy for any of these people. But that is what Paul is calling us to; more importantly, that is what God is calling us to. That is what it means to be a true follower of Jesus, to be a true Christian. 

In a sense, what we do here in church at Mass is a piece of cake; it’s what we do out there that really makes us a Christian…or not. Because it is out there – at home, at work, at school, in your neighborhood, on the street, on the freeway, etc. – where we are challenged to love. Amen? Amen! Celebrating Mass and preaching to you here in church is a piece of cake for me. But loving those other Dominicans I live with – that’s a challenge! My brothers and sisters, God is love, and he created us out of love; he created us to love. You and I are hard-wired to love the way Dayna Bennett loved, the way the Amish community loved, the way Paul challenged the Corinthians to love. So, the question is, do you want to live this kind of authentic, Godly, unstoppable love or not? 

Are you involved in a relationship or in a situation that is tough, that is draining, that is driving you crazy? Is there someone you simply cannot forgive? What I want to say to you today is, hang in there! Don’t give up! Think about how many times God has loved you and forgiven you even though you did not deserve it. Think about how God’s love for you bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; how his love for you never fails. Then ask God for that same kind of never-failing, unstoppable love to fill your heart. It may seem impossible, but for God, nothing is impossible because God’s love is unstoppable.