Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
When I looked at today’s readings my first thought was they deal with the difference between doing and saying, sort of like “say what you mean and do what you say.”  But how do you preach on that here?  You only have to look at the list of ministries this parish is involved in to see that we are doers.  Then I remembered that last line in the Gospel, “Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him” and I realized that all three readings really deal with changing our mindset.  Think about the recent Gospels; 2 weeks ago we heard about how many times must I forgive?   We say 7 and God says 77.  Change how we think.  Last week every worker in the vineyard gets paid the same.  We say unfair, God must be a Democrat!  God says be generous in your love.  Change how we think.  And today Jesus makes it very clear, to enter the Kingdom of God we have to change how we think.

The key is the second reading.  Jesus, although he was in the form of God (the Greek actually means “the same substance as God”, whatever God is Jesus is) he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.”  That is at the heart of our struggle as creatures.  We strive for, grasp for, equality with God.  We want to be God.  Be the center of the universe, have everything revolve around us!  Think about it, through out the Bible we see pride as humanity’s core sin - the created want to be the Creator.  It was Adam’s sin and it is our sin.  We want to decide what is right and wrong.  Life should revolve around ME.  Aren’t we often like that? Power, wealth, prestige; all are ways of building ourselves up, putting us in charge.

But Jesus, the only one that actually is God, doesn’t grasp at it.  “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.”  There it is, God’s secret to happiness and eternal life.  God came to show us how to serve, how to forget about control and instead focus on others.  That is what love does; it makes you a slave to others.  No longer can activities be the center of our life.  Serving others must be our first and most important mission.  All our other activities should just fill whatever time we have left over.

That is the change of mind required of all of us.  But how do we change our minds, change our attitude.  How do we move from a me-focused” mindset to an “other-focused” attitude?  Not so easy.  The chief priests and the scribes in the Gospel could not change their way of thinking and Christ tells them unless they change they won’t have eternal life.  So, where do we start? 

Maybe we can begin by asking ourselves every evening before bed, who have I served today?  If we have to struggle to come up with a name it will at least give us a focus for the next morning.  Then the question should be, who will I serve today?  The answer for each of us is different.  For some we serve customers and a simple smile is an act of love.  For others we serve neighbors, friends, homebound and a meal, a phone call is our ministry.  For some we volunteer with one of the many charities that organizations here support.  As Mother Theresa would say, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  It simply involves a willingness to put service and love of others above our own wants and needs. 

Who will we serve today - and tomorrow?