patmarrin's blog

The Real Presence

“The glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling” (Exodus 40:34).

Today’s reading from Exodus gives us a glimpse of God’s presence with the Hebrews, the Chosen People. Moses, who has been meeting regularly and face to face with Yahweh on the mountain, is instructed to build a meeting tent—the Dwelling—where the divine presence is manifested by a cloud that descends upon it in the desert. When the cloud appears, the children of Israel halt and wait; when it rises, the people continue their journey. At night, Yahweh’s presence appeares as a fire within the tent.

A Knock at the Door

"Jesus entered a village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home" (Luke 10:38).

Perhaps one of the most intriguing (and inviting) introductions to the spiritual life is found in Rev 3:20: "Behold I stand at the door and knock, and if anyone listens to me and opens up I will enter and we will dine together."

In God's Garden

“Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Matt 13:43).

There are many ways to unpack the powerful parable of the wheat and the weeds. The underlying theme fits other parables of mercy Jesus told, whose lesson was that God is patient with sinners because we all are works in progress. Virtue and fault, truth and error, mature and immature personality traits are so intertwined that if we rush to purge one we may damage the other. Patience recognizes that every saint is a sinner on the way to God, known only to God and loved unconditionally by God, even when they were sinful.

Small Deeds, Big Impact

"The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed" (Matt 13:31).

The parables reveal the mind of Jesus. A theme he repeats often in parables is that God accomplishes great things through small actions or means. The mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, has enormous potency, exploding and spreading quickly. A bit of yeast mixed with flour can produce enough bread to feed a village.

We saw this same theme in yesterday’s Gospel story of the young boy who offers his few barley loaves and two fish, and these are multiplied to feed a crowd of 5,000 people.

There is a Boy

“There is a boy here who has five barely loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many?” (John 6:7).

We know nothing about the boy who stepped forward and offered his lunch to help feed the crowd of 5,000. He goes unnamed in the Gospels. His good deed is told, but like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany (Mark 14:9) and even received this praise, “Truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her,” neither one is named.

Give Your Heart Away

“Hear the parable of the sower” (Matt 13:18).

Today’s Gospel follows the telling of the parable of the sower to the crowds. Jesus takes his disciples aside and explains the meaning of the imagery of the sower, the seed and the different types of ground it falls on.

The parable is about preaching parables and the different levels of readiness and receptivity the preacher will encounter in announcing the Kingdom of God.

Eyes That See, Ears That Hear

“Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear” (Matt 13:16).

Jesus taught in parables. These engaging and often ambiguous stories invited his audience to enter the mystery of the Kingdom at different levels, depending on their readiness to understand and commit to the message Jesus was teaching. Some heard only clever stories; others heard a deep challenge to conversion.

The Dawn of Faith

“Woman, why are you weeping?” (John 20:15)

The story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb is one of the most personal and moving accounts in the New Testament, but we should not miss its complex theological message for the early church and to the church today.

Behold, I Am Doing Something New

"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" (Matt 12:49).

Every person is formed within family and culture, which is why family and tribal loyalty are so deeply rooted in our identity. This is also why every innovator has to challenge his own group to say or do something new.

Leap of Faith

“Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you” (Matt 12:38).

We have the adage: "He who hesitates is lost." As anyone riding a bicycle knows, once we are in motion, only going forward keeps us upright. More profoundly, when the Buddha says, "Leap and the bridge will appear," he means that if we leap but doubt, the bridge will not be there.