Sermon Oct 1, Pent 18, yr a, 2023


“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being in human form, he humbled himself and become obedient to the point death—even death on a cross.”


What does it mean to be of the same mind as Christ? To live as Christ lived, to love as Christ loves, to have the authority that Christ has.  What does that even look like?

In our gospel today we hear a very short parable of two sons, and the will of their father.

The Father told each of them to go work in the family vineyard.  Neither son was particularly exemplary in their response.  The first was full of attitude and disrespectful…but after a time repentant and obedient. The second was a hypocrite all the right words, but with no intention to follow through. 

Jesus spoke this parable to the Chief Priests of the temple.  People who had great authority due to their position and status, yet as we know from scripture and from our own lives a position of authority does not ensure a person has integrity.

In our current context we are in the midst of election campaigns , which means the bad mouthing and accusations are flying.  People with positions of authority by virtue of their title or status do not always act with perfect integrity.

So, it is clear that we must match our words and our action to be of the same mind as Christ.

It is also clear that to do so is not easy, and that so many of life’s challenges and complications get in the way…distract us from putting all our effort into being Christ like.  Perhaps especially if you are in a position of authority and responsibility. 

For example, It is a lot easier for me to stand in this pulpit, a Priest, robed in white, a person of some status and authority and tell you what to do… then it is to actually live it day to day.  I know the right things to say, much like that son who says “I go, sir”            and yet…

Which among us has never ever heard the words, “do as I say not as I do”.

We know what to do and if we didn’t Philippians lays it out for us today.

“do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”


Which if we all would do so, would mean each of us would be well cared for.  But which of us could manage it?  We know Jesus did…

but…well … come on! He was Jesus!  I…am not.

Which is why it is so nice that we have days throughout the year when we can get examples of people, mere humans who, though not perfect, managed to get the concept of living with the same mind as Christ pretty well.

We call them saints and today we will at 2 o’clock celebrate St Francis, by following his example and blessing the animals gathered with us.  But St Francis is an example to follow in many ways, as his authority came not from being the founder of a Monastic Order but from living his life in the mind of Christ.  An accomplishment that took a lifetime.

Francis was born into a large, Italian family. A very rich family too.

His family were wealthy merchants who traded in cloth, imported from France and brought home to Assisi. Francis was spoiled and indulged, he was dedicated to pleasure and indulgence and early biographers were quite harsh in declaiming Francis’ love of fine clothes, drunkenness and frivolity.

When he was old enough Francis joined up for a military career, dreaming of handsome uniforms and great glory…but it didn’t go well.  At various points Francis was captured, became ill and began having dreams and visions, he left the military and went home.

It was soon after that Francis’s life began to change and he began to live with Christlike integrity, even if, at the beginning they needed intentionality.

One fateful and famous day St. Francis was out riding and saw a leper.   The sight of this leper, initially filled him with disgust and he retreated away, but something caused him to rethink this reaction.   Francis, famously dismounted his horse, embraced the leper and gave him all his money.

The next chapter of his life St Francis spent at monasteries scrubbing floors and gathering stones, one by one, to rebuild chapels ruined by war and time. The church at this point in history was very wealthy and embroiled in politics, fear of Islam, the crusades and internal controversy. 

However, St Francis focused less on politics and more on the Christ’s teaching.

St Francis took the gospel teachings to heart and as a personal calling.   People began to take notice of him and how he lived his life.

As he began to gain followers, St. Francis created a rule of life for he and his followers to live by. Most notably, giving everything they had away, wearing rough robes as a symbol of humility and penitence, and living in handmade huts near the churches. They became known as the penitents of Assisi and soon received papal permission to be a formal order of monastics.  However, it was clear that St Francis’ authority came not from the papal permission that granted him and his followers status, but from the integrity of St Francis’ life and actions.

St Francis taught that in all things we should imitate Christ.  St Francis believed whole heartedly in reconciliation and love, and the divine perfection in all of creation. This was obvious in the way he lived his life and in his understanding that all things were related to him through Christ.  That he was not to be considered superior to creation, but that all of God’s creation was equal in God’s eyes. 

            One of the last things he did before his death was write the Canticle of the Sun…which speaks of Brother Sun and Sister Moon. St Francis famously preached to the birds and fed the bees, and befriended wolves because they too were a part of the great congregation.

He lived his life with integrity and with authority.  The authority of a person, an everyday person, who practiced what they preached.  A rare and difficult life to achive, but one that St. Francis did his utmost to live out.  To live with the same mind as Christ, to be humble and obedient, to be aware of one’s authority without exploiting it, but rather endeavouring to live into it with integrity and love.

This is what we are called to.  To live with the same mind as Christ, to live as Christ lived, love as Christ loved and to practice what we preach.  It’s a difficult calling, but it can be done…it has been done, by Christ, by St Francis and many others.  The saints are examples of mere humans, who by living with the mind of Christ, have done amazing things, have changed the world for the better via integrity and humility.

The saints had the same call as each of us and we are capable of the same integrity they showed.   St Francis is known and celebrated for his love of Creation, especially for his fellow creatures.  Hence, the St. Francis day animal blessings, but St Francis loved all of creation especially the vulnerable, the poor and those in need.  We are called to join St Francis, in imitating Christ as whole hearted lovers.  People who act out their love in whole hearted and extreme generosity to the many, many parts of creation which are in desperate need.

We are called to be imitators of Christ, loving those who society has cast aside.  Imitators of Francis, who is reputed to have said that we should preach at all times, and if necessary use words.  Imitators of his love in action!  A people whose words and deeds work together to show Christ to the world.  A people of authority, not through wealth or power, but because of their Christ like love and integrity.

St. Francis is considered a saint because he was truly exceptional, but this doesn’t mean we should see him as someone to venerate and place above us, a life unreachable, unachievable.  Rather St Francis is someone who should inspire us to live our lives as he did, in imitation of Christ.  In humility of spirit, in simplicity of life and in extreme acts of love.

For when it comes down to it, we are all saints in the church and we are all called to be in the same mind as Christ.  Living our lives with humility, integrity and the authority that Christ himself exemplified.  The authority of a life lived in the service of others.