St. Dominic Catholic Church

2002 Merton Ave | Los Angeles, CA 90041 | (323) 254-2519


Rend Our Hearts...Heal Our Hearts 1st Sunday Lent Fr. Roberto

Homily for First Sunday of Lent – Year C
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Los Angeles, CA
March 6, 2022

Title: Rend Our Hearts…Heal Our Hearts
Theme: God needs to break open our hearts so that he can change them and heal them. 
Readings: Deuteronomy 26:4-10; Romans 10:8-13; Luke 4: 1-13

Throughout the years of my priesthood, many fellow priests have told me that they prefer to celebrate funerals rather than weddings. That may sound strange, but, in some ways, it actually makes sense. And that is because, at a wedding, sometimes the bride and groom, their families and many of the guests can be so focused on details like the wedding dress, the reception, the flowers, the music, the pictures, etc., that they can lose track of what is most important: the spiritual dimension of this celebration in which these two people are committing themselves to a life of love and sacrifice and are being bound together by God’s power and grace in the sacrament of marriage.

On the other hand, at a funeral, the people who attend are often hurting; their hearts have been broken open because of losing a loved one. So, they are not as distracted by details like 
who is wearing the latest fashions, the reception, the flowers, the music, etc., because they are much more focused on their pain and loss. They are looking for answers, or at least for something that can help them get through this difficult time. And, because of that, very often, they are more open to turning toward God and saying, “Lord, help me; Lord, I need you.” Do you see the difference between these two kinds of celebrations? On the one hand, it is sad that, at a funeral, people are hurting because they have lost a loved one, but, at the same time, 
it is at those very moments when our hearts are broken open by pain that God can touch our hearts in profound ways.

The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is always about Jesus going into the desert and being tempted by the devil. Today, we heard Luke’s version of this story, and it is interesting that Luke says that Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” The Gospel seems to say that the Holy Spirit purposely led Jesus to the desert to experience this confrontation with Satan. And it also interesting to note that the confrontation took place only after Jesus had fasted for forty days – not before, not during, but after he fasted; forty days of denying himself food – not to mention also denying himself the comforts of a soft bed, warmth, familiar surroundings and human companionship. 

Perhaps these great sacrifices Jesus made were his way of breaking open his heart, of emptying himself in order to be filled with the grace and power of God so that he could confront the devil. Perhaps these sacrifices were Jesus’ way of saying, “Father, help me; Father, I need you; Father, I love you.” To me, looking at today’s Gospel in this way explains why the Church gives us the opportunity every year to celebrate the season of Lent. You see, Lent is our opportunity to go into the desert like Jesus, so to speak, our time to break away from our normal routines and comforts, and to make our own sacrifices so that we too can break open our hearts for God to change them, fill them and help us to confront our own ego as well as the devil in our lives. So, just like Jesus in today’s Gospel, during Lent the Spirit purposely leads us into the desert so that we can, in some way, break open our hearts before God and say to him, “Lord, help me; Lord, I need you; Lord, I love you.”

This year, our parish’s Lenten theme is “Rend our hearts…heal our hearts.” The word “rend” means to break open or tear open. So, I would l like to ask each of us to look at whatever we are doing for Lent – whether we are giving something up or doing something extra – and to think of our sacrifices as a way to rend our hearts, to break open our hearts before God and say to him those powerful words, “Lord, help me; Lord, I need you; Lord, I love you.” I think this gives a much deeper, richer and more spiritual dimension to our Lenten sacrifices. So, what I am saying is that this Lent, don’t give up candy or coffee or your favorite food just to be more disciplined or to lose weight or to be healthier; don’t just read the Bible more or go to Mass more often or pray more or give extra money to the poor just to see if you can do it or just to feel good about yourself. Rather do these things especially as a way to break open your heart; 
as a way to let God touch your heart more deeply, to let God change your heart, heal your heart and fill it with more of himself.

There is one more spiritual dimension that I would like to add to our Lenten practices this year. 
I think we would all agree that, in recent years, there seems to be more division and conflict in our Catholic Church, in our society and in our world. There appears to be so much anger and disrespect between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, between different races and ethnic groups, between pro-vaccination folks and anti-vaxxers, pro-choice and pro-life supporters, and on and on. And now, we have Russia invading the Ukraine and bringing the world to the brink of war yet again. 

So, I would like to ask you to offer your Lenten sacrifices not just for yourself, but especially to bring healing to our world. Amen? Amen! To remind us of this, you will see on the cover of our bulletin the image of a heart that is divided, broken into pieces. On the one hand, this image represents the sad reality of the divisions and brokenness in our world and, perhaps, in our own hearts. But it is also a reminder that God can use those very divisions and brokenness to rend, to break open our hearts so that he can change them, heal them and even bring healing to our world by our Lenten sacrifices of prayer, fasting and giving. Then, as we progress through the weeks of Lent, you will see on the bulletin cover the heart coming closer together signifying the healing that God wants to bring to us and to our world. 

So, my brothers and sisters, during this Lenten season, what will rend, what will break open your heart? What will make you say, “Lord, help me; Lord, help us; Lord, I need you; Lord, I want you; Lord, I love you?” Will it be the situation in the Ukraine? Our ongoing battle with the pandemic? Will it be a personal loss in your life or some other situation? Hopefully, it will also be your Lenten sacrifices that will break open your heart because, hopefully, you will make a serious sacrifice of your time, energy and effort. But whatever does break your heart open, don’t waste the pain, the sorrow or the sacrifice. Let God use it so that he can encounter you more deeply; so that he can touch your heart, change your heart, and heal your heart. 
And, perhaps through you, God can then bring his love, goodness and healing to our world.