A New Mind and a New Heart-Week 1
First Sunday of Lent
February 22, 2015
This Lent, I am giving another homily series entitled “A New Mind and a New Heart.” We hear about this idea from the prophet Jeremiah who speaks of a new covenant with God-a covenant that will require a new heart in order to become disciples of Jesus.
Today we begin a journey of discipleship-a journey that will take forty days. This is in honor of Jesus’ forty days in the desert. While in the desert, Jesus experiences two extremes: wild animals and the ministry of angels.
I would like to start out by talking about the wild animals. This will help us to understand the ministry of angels.
Wild beasts represent the fragility of our lives. Like other animals, we have bodies and, at any moment, we could come to a violent end. Any disaster could take us out-be an earthquake, fire, or, as we heard about in the first reading, a flood. We could be killed in a car accident or by a heart attack. We could even be attacked by a wild animal!
Sometimes we humans act like animals. We act on impulse. I think all of us know that we have an animal side. The question is this: is that all there is to us? Many people say human beings are pure animal, and only animal. They also say animals are nothing but a bunch of complex reactions-and that everything comes down to tiny particles in motion. This view is attractive because it seems to relieve people from guilt. After all, if a human being is nothing more than a bunch of complex reactions and particles, he or she cannot be blamed for the way they act. According to this view, you and I are simply animals that act on impulse. The problem with this view is that everything becomes relative-there is no right or wrong.
I heard a story about a guy standing in line at a coffee shop wearing a t-shirt that said, “No Rules.” Another guy stepped in line ahead of him. The man responded, “Who do you think you are? I was here first!” So much for “No Rules.” All of the sudden, right and wrong do matter.
As we can see, the materialistic view of things doesn’t address all of our problems. We live in the natural realm, but we must remember that there is a supernatural realm as well.
We see that supernatural realm in the Gospel-the ministry of angels. Angels are, of course, pure spirit. In the Bible, angels are depicted as winged creatures because they move as fast as thoughts, and they have the power to make things happen. If Jesus, in humanity, needed the ministry of angels, don’t we? The ministry of angels helps us in getting a new mind. Remember, not only are we connected to the animal world, but also to the angels and to God himself. If we only focus on the animal side, it’s easy to get down. Remember that God has given each of us a guardian angel and, in tough times, we can call on St. Michael the Archangel.
The ministry of angels can get us a new mind and a new heart. Next week, we’ll see how that transformation is possible. We live in the animal world, but Lent calls us to recognize beings that are greater than we are, and to accept the ministry of angels. Most importantly, Lent calls us to refuse to despair, to repent and believe in the Gospel.