patmarrin's blog

God So Loved the World

“They kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant” (Mark 9:10).

Three theophanies, or revelations of who Jesus really is, occur in the Gospels. The first is Jesus’ baptism, the second is today’s account of the transfiguration, and the third is Jesus’ death on the cross. Each event is clothed in mystery and is unintelligible without faith. The Gospel writers layer these three moments with earlier scripture passages to show that Jesus is fulfilling his mission to overcome sin and death with the liberating power of love.

The Last Penny

“Leave your gift at the altar, go and be reconciled first” (Matt 5:23).

As I parked my car this morning, I found a penny by the back wheel. It was well worn and corroded with road salt and looked like it had been run over more than once. Remembering my father’s word to always pick up a “lucky penny,” I brought it with me to my office, washed it off to show the familiar profile of Abe Lincoln and the date, 1997, the year I first came to work here.

The School of Prayer

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7).

Two students go off to school. One is filled with curiosity, asks lots of questions, pursues the resources and people who can help him. The other moves through the program passively, receiving what it offers. Both graduate, one with skills for life-long learning and an expanding knowledge of the world. The other waits to be told what to do, accepting what limits and opportunities life affords.

The Sign of Jonah

“This generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah” (Luke 11:29).

The story of Jonah was a comic jab at super-righteous people who refused to entertain the possibility that God’s covenant could extend beyond the “Chosen People,” to include even their enemies. Jonah, the reluctant prophet, barely whispers the call to repentance in Nineveh, the capital of ancient Assyria, and the entire nation falls to its knees. Jonah, who wants Nineveh to be destroyed, complains to God, who teaches him a lesson about divine mercy.

Spiritual Maintenance

“This is how you are to pray …” (Matt 6:9).

One of the problems homeowners face during an especially cold winter is the nightmare of frozen pipes. Pressure builds, pipes burst and water flows inside walls and ceilings.

Any kind of system delivering a constant flow in and out requires care and maintenance. The human body, with its intricate circulatory and fluid exchange systems is endangered by blockages and malfunction that must be quickly addressed and fixed.

Called to Do More

"When did we see you hungry or thirsty, or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?” (Matt 25:45).

Jesus fulfills the 10 commandments by taking them beyond law and order to unconditional love.

The original commandments given to Moses affirmed the need for right relationships in the community. Based on the golden rule, they preserved mutual self-interest: Treat others the way you want to be treated and society will run smoothly and fairly.

February 22, 2015: First Sunday of Lent

“Jesus was among the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him” (Mark 1:13).

To Fast of Feast?

"Can the wedding guests mourn when the bridegroom is still with them?" (Matt 9:15).

One of the benefits of fasting is that it sharpens your sense of taste. A good thirst makes cold water more refreshing. It is also true that "absence makes the heart grow fonder," one of the secrets of keeping a relationship fresh.

Choose Life

"Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:24).

Return to Me

"Return to me with your whole heart ..." (Joel 2:12).

The start of Lent today has me turning to past routines, like getting on the scale to record my weight (!) and to think of specifics I can do, or do without, for the next six weeks to get my life under control. But today's scripture readings draw me back to the purpose of this penitential season, which is to get my relationship with God in order.