Following Jesus begins in your Mind

Homily for the Third Sunday of Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Our minds control all, our mind is our kingdom. If our minds are turned from God they can become filled with all kinds of rubbish and it is difficult to be a follower of Jesus. Allowing our minds to be filled with Christian thoughts is the first step on the road to following Jesus.

In the Gospel today we heard that Jesus began his preaching by calling on people to repent. (Mark 1:15) Repentance, as you know, means a change of mind. It means turning our minds again to God. Then Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James and John. (Mark 1:16-20) They answered his call. They had to change their minds about their present circumstances and about the meaning of life before they could answer Jesus’ call. In the legendary story of Jonah, Jonah asked the people of Nineveh to repent. They did repent. They changed their minds; they turned their minds from the rubbish of the world and fixed their minds on God. (Jon 3:1-5) So to follow the Lord’s call to us we have to think in a way that is often different from the culture around us. Remember what Jesus said to Peter once, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.” (Matt 16:23). In Isaiah 55:7-9 we read,

Let the wicked man abandon his way,
the evil man his thoughts…
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
my ways not your ways – it is Yahweh who speaks.
Yes, the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.

In his letter to the Philippians (2:5) Paul wrote, “In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.” So we begin following Jesus in our minds, inside in our own heads. No wonder that Jesus says in Mark 12:30, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” Why am I singling out today following Jesus with our mind? Because there are so many attempts to get at your mind, to feed your mind with unchristian rubbish. Much of what you could see on TV would not help us to have the same mind as Jesus. Serious sin is glamorized and presented as normal and must be having an effect on society. We could say the same about newspapers. Our minds are like sponges, they soak up dirt just like a sponge. We can wash a sponge and we can wash our minds. We can wash our minds by filling them with what is good and holy and cutting out from our lives what contaminates our minds. Yes we can become contaminated but we can also decontaminate ourselves! Do you need to be contaminated? If you do, ask Jesus and Mary to help you. What efforts do you make to fill your mind with what is good? The following is an account of what one family did to remove sin from their minds and instead fill their minds with what is good:

“We greet you as a family trying to imitate the Holy Family. We would like to share our story with you for the glory of God and in praise of Jesus and Mary. We are a couple married for twenty-eight years and have two young adults. We were a family with two passions - God and television. A certain time of the day was devoted to Mass and the Holy Rosary, yet it was given often begrudgingly by all members of our family because it collided with the various different TV programs. The moment prayer was finished our adoration began. Not the adoration of the Eucharist, but of the television. The four of us would sit glued to the set, often without a word spoken among us for hours except maybe to comment on Vera Duckworth’s perm or who was going to win Spin the Wheel. When the kids went to bed after spending “Quality Time” with the beloved Telly, my husband and I would carry on our shift with the TV. Hours and days of precious God-given moments were wasted, until one evening a particularly grotesque and unbelievably inhuman scene flooded our living room and our minds. Suddenly, my husband said, “Let’s get rid of the Television” We all thought he had lost his marbles, it was so remote we thought he was out of control, pardon the pun! As the dirt and filth continued to light up our TV screen the idea became more and more inviting, naturally quicker to us than it did to our children. So after a lot of discussion and yes, prayer, we ridded ourselves of the box, we dumped it, still with feelings of doubt. Yet after a while the doubt among us soon dispersed as true family life set in. Without the television, we came to know one another not only as a wife, a husband, a son, a daughter but as individuals. We began to live our lives, and our minds, our hearts and our soul were awakened to a lot of things,- to God’s love and beauty in nature, to each other, to every grace and blessing given to us as a family. Praise Jesus! Our home is now a home of love, joy, openness, communication and a house full of life and soul! Not just a house with four people and a Television. Today a crucifix fills the place where the TV used to be…We thank God for this grace He has given us and we ask pardon for all the precious moments spent in front of the box…”
(information about the damaging effects of violence on TV)
(by a family but unfortunately I do not know the source. If you knew please email me. Thanks.)

In the second reading Paul asked the Corinthians to remember that life is short. Perhaps Paul thought Jesus’ Second Coming at the end of time might be soon. His words about how to live in the world are good for us to ponder also:

...those whose life is buying things should live as though they had nothing of their own; and those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away. (1 Cor 7:30-31)

Jesus began his preaching by asking for repentance, a change of mind. If we turn our minds from the filth and trash of the world, and fill our minds with what is of God we will have peace of mind. The prophet Isaiah said,

“You keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.” (Isa 26:3)

Jesus said,

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

Paul wrote,

“In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.” (Phil 2:5)

Today Jesus says to us,

The time has come...and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News. (Mark 1:15)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More related material for the Third Sunday Year B

Related Homilies: on vocation see Second Sunday

on the call to repent see God Continues to Call Us to Bear Fruit

stories of vocation and repentance