patmarrin's blog


Generous Sowers, Bountiful Harvests

Hear this! A sower went out to sow” (Mark 4:1).

By any measure, one of the great Catholic “sowers” of God’s word was St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). This 13th century Dominican friar organized and presented Catholic doctrine in a transparent framework based on the methodical and systematic exposition of knowledge perfected by Aristotle for the sciences. His brilliant insights are evident in Catholic teaching today. A great sower produced a great harvest for teachers and preachers for centuries to come.

Family Resemblance

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” (Mark 3:33).

If anyone needed to be convinced that families define us, a typical parish photo directory will make clear just how much our genes, diet, clothing and culture identify us with our parents and siblings. Less evident but revealing in many pictures are clues to why couples chose one another, the potential effects of birth order, parenting styles and economic status. That strong individuals emerge from family influences is a miracle of nature and nurture, opportunity and motivation.

What's the Buzz?

“The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul’ ” (Mark 3:22).

The Call Is For You

“Jesus called them, and they left their father in the boat with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:20).

Mark provides enough detail in today’s Gospel to tell us how serious a decision Simon and his brother Andrew, and James and his brother John, made in answering Jesus’ call to discipleship.

First, they are already out on the water in the boat, so to respond to Jesus, they will need to leave the boat and swim ashore. This "baptismal" theme will be repeated in John 21 when Peter again jumps into the water to come to Jesus on the shore.

Called and Chosen

“Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him” (Mark 3:13).

Management theory would hold that the decision to hire someone is probably the most important decision an employer makes. An eye for talent and potential is the key to assembling a good workforce. Bringing in ill-suited or potentially troublesome workers can create major problems down the line, and it is certainly true that getting rid of someone is far more complicated than hiring the right person in the first place.

Do You Want to Be a Hero?

"Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will" (Ps 40).

Withered Minds and Hearts

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath?”

In Deut 30:19, Moses reduced the entire law to a choice between life and death: “I put before you life and death; choose life.” In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees, who claim to be followers of Moses, conspire to put Jesus to death for giving life on the sabbath to a man with a withered hand.

Freedom to Live

"The son of man is lord even of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28).

From the very start of his ministry, Jesus makes clear that the Gospel is not just some kind of spiritual uplift but real liberation from any obstacle or control that keeps people from knowing God directly. Jesus first takes on the local clergy who run the synagogues, claiming authority to interpret the scriptures and all laws regarding ritual practice, sin offerings, healings and exorcisms. He will later take on the Temple establishment itself in Jerusalem and the Romans who levied taxes on the people.

New Wine

"No one pours new wine into old wineskins" (Mark 2:22).

Today North Americans pause to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who was assassinated in 1968 as leader of the Civil Rights Movement. King grounded the struggle for voting rights and equality under the law in the deep biblical story of the Exodus.

Today's Gospel reading affirms the reality that no social change occurs without a change of structures. New wine requires new wineskins. The call for justice continues to meet inflexible attitudes and resistance in an America still divided along class and race lines.

Conversation to Conversion

"Where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see" (John 1:37).

How many revolutions have started with a simple conversation?