“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
“Transformed” a blog from our newest Missionary in Houston, Matthew Blake
I do it. Every time I do it. In fact, I did it earlier today. I walked out of the confessional, perfect. A walking, living, breathing saint! Every time I walk out of confession, I proclaim in my heart, out loud, or both that “I am never going to sin again!” This time I am serious! Seriously! Never again! “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Absolutely! Got it! I get in my car, I crank “Freedom is Here” by Hillsong United way too loud and I continue on with my day as “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). However, it usually doesn’t take very long…
You know, really, I am just like Paul. Not because I am balding or have a long flowing beard, not because this blog is going to be published in the coming revised editions of the New Testament, but because I can relate to him in the confession he so humbly makes to the Romans. “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15). It seems that in no time at all, I am right back to where I was. Why do I do what I hate? I don’t really know, I don’t even understand. Regardless, it becomes the cry of my heart. Saint Paul also says, “all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
OK, but what about that whole be perfect thing? What about goodness? What about renewal? What about freedom? That song I love to blast after confession is far more than just a song. It’s far more than a feeling of not wanting to sin. Within my heart I am torn and I am desperate for transformation.“We condemn ourselves to following the rules (ethics) without a change of heart (ethos).” – Christopher West
It’s sad, but it’s true. You see, sin is a choice and everyday we choose it. You choose it and I choose it. Together, we choose it. We choose the lie over the Truth, we choose the offender over the Defender, we choose slavery over Freedom, we choose Satan over God, and ultimately, we choose hell over Heaven. It’s harsh and it’s hard, but it’s true. Except wait! There’s good news. Are you ready for it? On your own, you cannot follow God’s law and not sin. You can’t. It’s impossible. Jesus says in John’s gospel, “I am the vine, you are the branches…without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). However, this inability on our own gives us the opportunity to rely on God’s unending grace and mercy, which leads us down the lifelong path of transformation. I pray, I go to confession, I go to Mass and that’s great, but is this transforming my heart or am I just going through the motions? Why can I not stop choosing sin? On the surface, I don’t want to stop choosing sin. In spite of this, my heart runs much deeper. “If the human heart is a deep well, it is true that murky waters abound. But if we press through the mud and the mire, at the bottom of the well we do not find grime and sludge. We find a spring that, when activated, gradually fills the well to overflowing with pure, living water” (Theology of the Body for Beginners).
Deep down I do not desire sin; on the contrary, I am craving a glorious union, communion, with God! A life of goodness, renewal, transformation, freedom, and perfection! We can be transformed to where we don’t break God’s law (sin) because we have no desire to! “The Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires” (CCC 2764). This is why Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17). With Jesus your heart can be transformed and you can have that abundant life the Gospel proclaims for all people!“Oh my Jesus, transform me into yourself, for you can do all things.” – Saint Faustina