patmarrin's blog

Hit the Road

“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” (Luke 9:58).

The radical nature of discipleship is no better expressed in the Gospels than in today’s reading.

Thunder Road

“Lord do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” (Luke 9:56).

James and John, nicknamed the “Sons of Thunder,” were eager evangelists, but they had missed the message entirely. In asking Jesus if they might call down fire on a Samaritan village that had not welcomed them, they revealed their total misunderstanding of the Gospel of mercy. So Jesus rebuked them. The invitation to enter the Kingdom was voluntary and a matter of attraction, not threat of punishment.

Angels Ascending and Descending

"You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51).

One of great theophanies in the Bible is found in Genesis 28, the story of Jacob’s dream about a stairway, or ladder, connecting heaven and earth, with angels ascending and descending on it. Jacob awakens awestruck and declares, “This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Go into the Vineyard

“Which of the two did the father’s will?” (Matt 21:30).

Obituaries are as close to autobiographies as most people get, and someone else actually writes them for us. Pay-by-the-word summaries of our life can feature a long list of accomplishments, memberships and honors or just a glimpse of family connections, jobs held, services scheduled and where to send flowers. The basic question is always, what did a person do with his or her life?

Turn, Turn, Turn

“God has put the timeless into their hearts” (Eccl 3:11).

Today’s first reading is the powerful poetry of Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for every thing under heaven,” which became the folk song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” composed and first performed by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The song became the anthem for a whole generation of social activists longing for a new world salvaged from the violence and injustice of an older world seemingly trapped in patterns of endless conflict and repression.


“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart” (Ps 90).

The juxtaposition of today’s two readings, the famous “vanity of vanities” lament from Ecclesiastes and Luke’s account of Herod’s interest in meeting Jesus, invites us to reflect on one of the great challenges of modern life: Boredom.

Send Me

“Jesus sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal” (Luke 9:2).

If you have ever spent a long time composing an important e-mail, you know the experience of pausing after you have read it over carefully with the cursor poised over the “Send” button. Unless you actually send the message, nothing will happen.

Becoming Nobodies

“Your mother and your brothers are standing outside” (Luke 8:20).

Today’s short gospel account is long on implications for anyone considering discipleship. Jesus is surrounded by a crowd eager to hear his message and witness his miracles. Luke tells us that his family -- "his mother and his brothers” -- had come and wanted to see him. In the ancient world, blood relations and tribal loyalty defined a person. To dismiss this claim was tantamount to stepping outside the one reality that told you who you were, in name, inheritance and social acceptance. Apart from that you were a nobody.

The Truth Will Set You Free

“There is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be made known” (Luke 8:17).

“Things are seldom what they appear to be.” That old saying covers much of life and certainly human interactions. People are opaque and hide their motives and intentions. Most of us have little insight into our own inner workings. But there is another saying: “In the end the truth will come out.” It may take time, but the outcome exposes everything.

It's Not Fair!

“You too go into my vineyard” (Matt 20:7).

Who could be against mercy? Who would resist Pope Francis’ call for the church of mercy, whose face is that of a compassionate and understanding mother instead of a stern judge?