What Are You Thinking?
March 20 2016
Palm / Passion Sunday
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor in Calcutta, India, has made the news this week as it was announced that she will be made a Saint. I believe that’s a good move on the part of Pope Francis, for if anyone deserves to be made a Saint, it is Mother Teresa, who worked tirelessly for the poor and dying, not just in Calcutta, but throughout the world.
But Mother Teresa was not always the poor, humble, and simple woman that she is so famous for being. She was born into a fairly well off family. Her father was a politician, and she grew up enjoying the benefits of the lifestyle her father provided to her and her family. But she was always interested in stories of the monks and nuns and others who gave their lives to serving others, and at the age of 18 left her home and family to join a Convent. The rest, as they say, is history as she traveled in Europe and Asia, finally settling in Calcutta, India where she and her order The Sisters of Charity served the poor and dying in that poverty stricken area for the rest of her life. Her work bought her world – wide acclaim and people from throughout the world visited and worked with her, but through all the notoriety and attention she remained a humble nun who gave her life to work with those in need. Indeed, she is a true candidate for Sainthood.
Can you imagine the conversation she must have had with her father when she told him she was going to join a Convent?
“Are you out of your mind?” her father may have said. “You’re giving up all you have to join a Convent and work with the poor?” “What are you thinking?”
Maybe she was “out of her mind” and not thinking the way her father thought. Maybe you and I need to go “out of our minds” and not think the way others do.
On this Passion / Palm Sunday as we begin Holy Week we need to ask ourselves: “What does it mean to make Christ our Lord and Savior and to follow Him let Him change our lives, and to serve Him?”
Our New Testament passages before us today from Philippians and Luke give us a clue to a part of the answer to this question, for part of what it means to make Christ our Lord and Savior and follow Him, part of what it means to let Christ change our lives, is that we need to think differently. We need to change the ways we usually think about things and begin thinking like Christ thought. Instead of having thoughts that can lead us to self – centeredness and looking out for ourselves, we can begin having Christ’s thoughts that lead to giving of oursleves and serving God and serving others.
As I was thinking about these things this week the idea struck me that this means “going out of our minds”, thinking about things in different ways, and having, as Paul puts it, “the mind of Christ”. Yes, maybe Mother Teresa had gone “out her mind” when she began working with the poor. Maybe we all need to “go out of your minds” and think about things differently also.
Let’s take a look at what might have been on Christ’s mind that first Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem. Imagine with me that first Palm Sunday. Jesus is entering Jerusalem. Many like to imagine that the sky must have been a beautiful blue, the sun shining, and the children running after Jesus shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord — Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
But why all the excitement? A man was coming into town with some of His followers. Big deal. It must have looked like quite a ragtag bunch, this teacher on a donkey and his followers shouting! Why all the excitement?
Well, many may have thought He was the Messiah, the one coming from God to overthrow the hated Romans and establish a kingdom of Jewish rule and God’s righteousness. Maybe Jesus was the Messiah! But as we look at this passage we know things that this original crowd did not know, don’t we? We know that it was Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, that entered Jerusalem that day, but we also know what happened to Him by the end of that week. He was not coming to Jerusalem to be praised, even though that happened, but He was coming for something completely different. He was not the kind of Messiah, Savior, or King the people were expecting. Before the week was over, His crown would be one of thorns and His throne would be a cross. He was a different kind of King than the people were expecting, and He indeed had something other than the praise of the people on His mind as He entered Jerusalem that day.
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem He indeed had something on His mind, but what was it? To answer that question let’s take a look at our passage for today from Philippians 2. Here Paul gives some insight into what may have been on Christ’s mind as He entered Jerusalem that day as he gives us a compelling picture of what he calls “the mind of Christ.” Paul writes that Christ:
“did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”
That’s what was on His mind. As He entered Jerusalem, even as the crowd praised Him, it was not the praise of the crowd that was on His mind. His mind was turned to giving of Himself. His mind was turned to giving up His Heavenly glory and dying for us.
Can you imagine someone who has all the power in the world willingly giving it up? Can you imagine someone who is God willingly becoming a slave and willingly dying on a cross? It is almost impossible to imagine such love. It’s almost impossible to imagine such a mind for giving of yourself for others, isn’t it?
Now we can look at what Jesus might have thought as He rode into Jerusalem that day so long ago, but I wonder if today is only a day for us to think about what Jesus did and what Jesus may have had on His mind as He rode into Jerusalem or what He may have had on His mind as He died for us, or is there a way that we can take Palm Sunday out of history and find something there for our lives here and now?
I believe we can indeed find something here for our lives. I believe we can find here something that can change our lives. Paul writes that we are to have the same mind as Christ had, to have on our minds the same things Christ had on His mind, to think as Christ thought.
“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” Paul writes.
This means that we are called to have the mind of Christ. It means that we are called to think of ourselves in the same way Christ thought of Himself. It means that we are called to have the attitude of giving of ourselves just like Christ gave of Himself.
Friends, God is calling us to put aside the ways we normally think about things. God is calling us to go outside of the way we might normally think and the way we might normally consider things and to think as Christ thought.
God calls us to “go out of our minds” and let God give us the mind of Christ. God calls us to not think in ways we normally think and not have on our minds what we are used to having on our minds, but to have the mind of Christ, to think as Christ thought, and to have on our minds the things Christ had on His.
Christ had giving of Himself for the world on His mind. Jesus “had a mind” to give and to serve, and even to die. Is that what is on our minds? Do we give of ourselves for Christ and for others? Jesus’ whole earthly life was built around making a sacrifice for the good of others. Is ours? Is giving of ourselves for the work of God and Christ in the world our main purpose in life? Is it our prevailing attitude? Is it our main objective in life?
This was Jesus’ purpose in life. Is it ours? This was what was on Jesus’ mind. Is it what is on our minds?
It’s hard to let these things that were on Jesus’ mind be the things that are on our minds. We would rather have things our way than do things God’s way. We make up excuse after excuse for not doing anything that requires us to give of ourselves, or give of our time. We would rather not have to make sacrifices to serve God and others. These are not things that we normally think about. These are not things that are normally on our minds. But as followers of Christ, we can be different. God can give us new minds. God can give us different minds. God can take us “out of our minds” and give us the mind of Christ.
There is a prayer that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, who, like Mother Teresa, gave up a like f prosperity to work with the poor. Saint Francis prayed:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. .
Is this our prayer?
As followers of Christ we can think differently and pray differently and do things differently. We can have what Paul called “the mind of Christ”. We can let what was on Christ’s mind be on our minds. We can make the prayer of St. Francis our prayer. We can be people who are active in helping others. We can be on the lookout for specific things we can do to be instruments for God as we reach out to the community and the world with the love of God. We can pray for and we can act out of the mind of Christ. We can pray for God to bless us and we can “go out of your minds”, thinking as Christ thought instead of like we normally think and acting out of the mind of Christ instead of how we normally act.
On this Palm / Passion Sunday as we begin Holy Week, I pray that we will all remember what Christ did for us. I pray that we will commit ourselves to living lives of serving God and others. I pray that we will each commit ourselves to a life of giving of ourselves for God’s work in the world.
God wants each of us to “go out of our minds” and God wants to bless us with the mind of Christ. Let’s let Him do that. Let’s let the things that were on Christ’s mind be on ours. Amen.