Choose to Change: Week 2 | Day 6

Mark’s Gospel opens with John the Baptist proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Br. Robert L’Esperance explains how the gospel concept of repentance – which literally means having a change of mind – is the essence of the kingdom, because it means that the world does not have to be the way it is. We have the power to change it.

Question: How can you make a difference in your own life, and in the lives of others?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Listening Hand

Transcript: A lot of biblical scholars tell us that the gospel of Mark is probably the oldest account of the four gospels.  It’s probably the first earliest gospel, and there’s a terseness, and there’s a tension in this gospel that always strikes me.

And the way Mark begins his gospel is by telling us that John the Baptist has come proclaiming a message of repentance, to repent because the kingdom of God is at hand.  He’s portrayed as the forerunner who announces the coming of Jesus.

And it’s this word about repentance I think that is so important to the message of the kingdom, and for me, it’s the essence of the message of the kingdom.  And “repentance” is a translation of a Greek word that’s used in the text; it comes from metanoia, the Greek word metanoia, and it literally means turning around.  But it even more subtly means for one to have a change of mind, to change one’s mind.

And when the gospel talk about that, what the gospel is talking about, it’s talking about our ability to change. And Jesus points this out to us. It’s not something that’s obvious to us as people. What Jesus’ message is about is that we can choose to change how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive one another.  And the message is that we don’t have to see ourselves or one another through the lens of alienation or through the lens of being set in opposition against one another.  So much of how human beings act, both toward themselves, and toward one another, is a mode of alienation, rejection, caution, suspicion, and Jesus says that there is a different way of being in the world.  There is a different way for us to be in the world, with ourselves first to begin with, and once that is effected, then how we interact with one another.  It doesn’t have to be—what Jesus is saying is that the world does not have to be the way it is, and we can change it.  Human beings have been given the power to change it.  So when we see evil in the world, when we see the problems of the world, what’s the good news of the message of the kingdom is that you can change that.  You have the power to change that.

I have a question for you: How can you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others?

– Br. Robert L’Esperance

Question: How can you make a difference in your own life, and in the lives of others?

Week 2 Activity: Listening Hand
Who has been a channel of God’s grace for you? In conversation or over email this week, reach out to five people to find out how they came to know God’s love. How does the Good News shape the way they live? Reflect on how you are inspired by their witness and examples.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity


  1. Sue on April 1, 2017 at 00:18

    I think I can make a difference by: continuing to stay open and loving
    Learning to be aware …seeing others through the lens of love
    Being prepared to show courage and risk doing something new if I am prompted to
    Listening to where I need to take a stand

  2. Stan Lewis on March 13, 2017 at 16:24

    I can make a difference in my life first by coming to grips with the fact that I don’t have to win God’s love. He loves me for who I am, and knowing this, it will be easier to be the real me–the person he created me to be. There is no need to pose or try and be someone I am not. I can make a difference in the lives of others by allowing the grace and unconditional love God gives me to flow into the lives of those around me–to see them as God sees them.

  3. Verlinda on March 11, 2017 at 18:41

    I can make a difference by paying attention to others, by sharing a smile, by acknowledging their humanity and presence. I can also make a difference by being positive, even/especially in difficult times. These behaviors share God’s love and do make a difference. I know, because I’ve been the beneficiary of this from others myself.

  4. Stan on March 11, 2017 at 10:13

    Brother Robert’s message about repentance is indeed powerful. I’ve never given a lot of though about repentance. I’ll just kind of tell God I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that, can you help me change my attitude about this? And I’ve learned to stop and reevaluate what I’m thinking whenever I hear “Stop it, Stan!” in my head. But I’ve never really thought about how small, little insignificant events of repentance like that can truly change you over time.

    But I think Brother Robert’s most powerful words in his message are (quoted here} “What Jesus’ message is about is that we can choose to change how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive one another.”

    To me, that’s what it’s all about. That’s how we change the world, starting with ourselves. Being open to our own thoughts, our attitudes, and our needs. And understanding our own needs and desires within those around us. As we begin to open up to God’s love, we begin to open up to others, also. Which enriches us, which in turn, helps us to enrich the lives of others who we have relationships with.

  5. JPM on March 10, 2017 at 23:54

    I’m tired of thinking and reading about change. Talking is not doing. Intention is not doing. I prayed to God. I invited a homeless person to live with me.
    She and I knew she had advanced cancer. She had lost her job, her insurance, her home and had no one. I cared for her and was with her when she died.
    It doesn’t matter how I changed her life. She changed mine. Caring is not intention. It is doing. God bless

  6. gwedhen nicholas on March 10, 2017 at 16:19

    The way I feel that I could change myself, is in terms of evangelism. Frankly, it scares me, because I am afraid of failure, or that I might bring offence to another person. But I think if I gently tell my own story, I will neither fail nor give offence. My own story of my change of view point from God being a judgemental taskmaster, toward being a loving, gracious, and merciful God, could help to change others; could help them change the wrong image they might have of God, and help them to see God, as He really is, a God who loves unconditionally, who loves people for who they are because God created them. This knowledge gives peace, and is liberating. I could help them to realise that whatever they do, or don’t do, they can do nothing to lose Gods’ love. I think if I could help even one person come to this realisation, I could help change the world; do my small bit anyway because peace and liberation, breed peace and liberation, and so they will spread. THIS will change the world.

  7. Kristi on March 10, 2017 at 15:07

    One of the best quotes that I love to think of is ” be the change you want to see in the world” I find this is a very easy thing to say but extremely challenging thing to do, especially on a regular basis. It’s so easy to get caught up in negative thinking and harmful behaviors, not only towards ourselves but outward to others. It’s not easy to always be kind and open and loving to everyone because after all we are human and capable of acting in ways that are not consistent with peace and love. I do try and be compassionate to others, which fortunately is in my nature and my job as a learning support teacher helps me practice those skills every day when working with children. I just need to consistently practice being peaceful and kind even to those adults who are not that way to me. Instead of being angry with them, pray for them that they learn how to follow God’s example.

  8. Lianne Marsh on March 10, 2017 at 12:16

    I just want to share my current situation and how I am dealing with it. The apartment building where I live is classified ‘non-smoking’, and as 2-time cancer survivor, this is important to me. However, someone near my suite smokes both cigarettes and marijuana and the smoke that enters my environment has at times had me choking. Management claims not to know where it is coming from. There are other paths I could take, HOWEVER – after careful consideration I decided the more Christian response would be to first pray for these ‘smokers’, to ask that they find their smoking less desirable and thus reduce and perhaps end the practice. I have asked friends to join in this prayer. This would not only solve my problem, but improve their health as well, and be a less adversarial approach. Since taking this approach the duration of the smokey periods in my suite have diminished and, God willing, will continue to do so.

  9. Theresa Brion on March 10, 2017 at 11:37

    I can be more intentional about being a good friend and family member by being a calming influence, a supportive influence, and a quiet presence who listens, truly listens thoughtfully, quietly and empathically. I can be less fearful about being a more active activist and voice rather than doing so more safely and quietly. I can live as God is calling me to be.

  10. Cherie on March 10, 2017 at 11:22

    When I see myself as God’s beloved, it changes me. It opens me. It causes me to see w/ God’s eyes, or perhaps it’s to let God see through my eyes. It causes me to speak with God’s mouth, or perhaps it’s to let God speak through me. It’s to act with God’s intention, or perhaps it’s to let God act through me. I become a willing vessel – not an automaton – but a partner, a participant in the breaking through of the kindom of heaven on earth. And it starts by seeing myself truly – as Loved.

    • gwedhen nicholas on March 10, 2017 at 16:28


  11. Jean on March 10, 2017 at 10:01

    We can change the world by allowing God to work through us!!! Wow! That for me is a scary thought. I get so overwhelmed looking at today’s world. First and foremost I think we have to believe it, to accept that for ourselves. Then we need to simplify it. I cannot change the world’s ills on a large scale. I can pray. More than that it is important to be realistic. I need to go back again to God and ask what I can do. The answer comes back that just making change in the place where I live is what I am called to do – sow seeds by the ways in which I treat others, in the example of how I live my life, by the ways I interact with my children, and occasionally reaching to others in distress as I become aware of them, walk with God? At this elderly stage of my life this is all I can do and it is enough. With God’s grace I can change the world one step at a time.

    • Stan on March 11, 2017 at 09:49

      Jean, the world, itself, is only as you perceive it to be. Changing that world begins with changing “your” world. And you can change your world by the choices you make, the deeds which you do, and the way you relate with the people who inhabit your world.

  12. Connie Knighton on March 10, 2017 at 09:10

    I grew up within the holiness movement, in a denomination of great earnestness, much repentance and rigorous self sacrifice. For me repentance involves receiving the great gift of God’s unconditional love and living that love with freedom in my world. Repentance means abandoning myself to laughter, accepting absurdity, not having all the answers, striving less and being born of and borne by God’s surprising, ever liberating Spirit.

  13. Rhode on March 10, 2017 at 08:56

    more Christ centered and less self oriented. being truthful, grateful, not afraid to scrub my dirt and help you scrub yours if you ask, and perhaps, together we can see clear enough to throw out excess stuff to make more room for the energy of the HS to create an environment of meaningful relationship where the kingdom of God is me and you learning how lift each other up.

    • Rhode on April 6, 2019 at 09:04

      Hmmm. 2 yrs later and I am convinced the grumpy me wrote the above comment. I am not in that place anymore. Releasing old resentments and struggles through prayer has helped change my path. It is as if I was stuck in a mental traffic jam. Prayer and God’s persistent love moved obstacles to create time and desire to say yes to our local prison, to my church, to our soup kitchens and better relationships. Gods’ love moves mountains and there are plenty shovels to go round.

  14. Bryan Cook on March 10, 2017 at 08:09

    Sober Serving Sharing Seeking Smiling Still

    • Dorrie on March 10, 2017 at 09:31

      Thank you, Bryan. You said what I was thinking.

  15. Deb on March 10, 2017 at 07:27

    The change within me would be one in which I exercise far more thoughtfulness and discernment when I judging the intentions of others. As shared today, we often look through a lens that is cloudy and misguided with repeated play within our heads that is inaccurate. My fears often drive my own perceptions of myself and how I think others think of myself – which may produce a less than desirable exchange. What I can do is slow it down, challenge the negative replay and choose to turnaround the negative self-talk with positive commentary. The simple act of strengthening interpersonal actions by believing the best intentions of others as my “go to” approach and demonstrating humble inquiry will go far

    • Chris on March 10, 2017 at 10:23

      Well said, this is exactly where I am at in my life. choosing to turn the fear and anxiety, the self hating and judging into more positive message, which in turn changes the way I deal with others and react, so far so good will take time, let time be time, you cant change it, one moment, one day, one situation at a time.

  16. Beverly Cone on March 10, 2017 at 07:19

    Change! Let go! Then…… it again! I thought I had really downsized when I moved to a retirement community but now I am finding I have to think differently – what worked during one time in my life does not have the same affect now. I am exploring new ways to worship, and am really working on my river of life. I see the ups and downs at different times that I have experienced, and now am reaching out to find new ways to be “me” at this stage. God be with us.

  17. Winifred on March 10, 2017 at 07:01

    With more patience, more love, more joy. Life and those we love are precious.

  18. Susan on March 10, 2017 at 06:43

    These are the ways I try to make a difference: Always lead with Love. Be humble. Be gentle. Be kind. Listen. Show up. Be generous. Don’t assume. Don’t label. Try to understand. Have conversations. Ask questions when appropriate. Greet everyone. Smile. Forgive. Forgive again. Let go. Release expectations. Appreciate everything. Commit. Encourage. Be open. Be willing. Pray. Pray with others. Be the change I want to see. LOVE.

    • David Cranmer on March 10, 2017 at 07:34

      You describe even better than I have the way that I also tried to lead in my department before I retired,

    • Chris on March 10, 2017 at 10:25

      Thank you for this!!! sometimes we need to be reminded.

    • Beverly Sweeton on March 11, 2017 at 08:04

      My husband passed away in 2016. He was a great communicator whose mantra was “You must be the change you want to see in the world”. He produced cards to hand out every where we went. The messages on the cards were uplifting. some were funny, some serious. I continue to do this although not as well as he did. The cards are received well. Some people reply, “I really needed this today”.
      Sometimes he named the cards such as the Smile card. One of the sentences on the card is, “A smile is the same in all languages”. Another, “Your smile, don’t leave home without it”. Or “A smile is contagious, be a carrier”. A smile or kind word can do a lot to soften our chaotic world.

  19. Kathy on March 10, 2017 at 06:34

    For most people the teenage yrs are the “me” years. Those years ore often filled with rebellion, growth, trying to fit in or stand out, testing limits, etc. Once past that you begin to settle into your own skin and seek change within. Those weekly trips to church that at one point you viewed as bothersome has taken on a new light. You attend because you want to; not because you were forced to do so. You begin to listen to the sermons and understand the content. You find wisdom and solace in them. They take root and grow.

    So for all parents that “force” their sleepy kids to church and read/tell them biblical stories, know that you are NOT wasting time. You are planting a seed. The seed will most certainly grow though you’ll doubt that during the teenage years. Hold them in prayer and let them know that the example to follow in life is Jesus; not you. We all have many faults that we struggle with on a daily basis.

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