patmarrin's blog

Enter the Heart of Discipleship

"He ate nothing during those days ... and he was hungry" (Luke 4:2).

Jesus' 40-day fast in the desert after his baptism is meant to remind us of the 40 years the Hebrews spent in the desert before they entered the promised land. Jesus' encounter with Satan and the temptations he faced were similar to the temptations the people faced as they struggled to obey their covenant with God.

Traveling Light

"What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet forfeit himself?" (Luke 9:25).

Imagine that you are told that you must pack a single suitcase and leave quickly on a journey that promises to change your life. What would you take?

Jesus called his disciples on those terms, asking them to travel light so they could move freely without baggage or anxious concern for their own welfare. He promised to take care of everything they would need or want.

Ashes to Ashes

"Your Father who sees in secret will reward you" (Matt 6:3).

The season of Lent begins with a clear reminder that interior conversion comes before any effective change of behavior. The three ritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving point us in the right direction but they do not make the journey. What God wants most of all is our total attention. "Turn to me with all your heart."

How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place

"How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God" (Ps 84).

Solomon prays in the magnificent temple he has built to house the Ark of the Covenant. He acknowledges that no earthly place can be the locus for the Lord of the universe, but he asks God's blessing and protection of this sacred reminder of the covenant. Pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for feasts and offerings would see the glimmering reflection of the sun off of the white stone of the massive structure. A number of psalms describe the joy worshipers felt when they entered the temple.

The Ark of God Among Us

"The people scurried about the surrounding country and brought the sick to wherever they heard Jesus was" (Mark 6:55).

The holiness, or "otherness," of God is emphasized throughout the scriptures, evident in the story in 1 Kings 8 of the bringing up of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. The focal point of the presence of God is the Ark, a gold box topped by with angels, their wings spread out to cover it and its contents, the two stone tablets of the Law given to Moses at Sinai.

Go Out Into The Deep

“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).

The miraculous catch of fish story appears in Luke 5 and John 21. In both cases it is a story about the call of Peter. It is vivid in detail and rich in emotionas and metaphors: working all night and catching nothing, going out into the deep, catching people, feeling deeply unworthy.

Off With His Head!

"Herod promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head" (Mark 6:28).

Decapitation, thrust into the news by the conflict in the Middle East, was a common practice in the ancient world. It has survived in the language of strategic theory that says the best way to stop a movement is to decapitate its leadership. For Herod Antipas, accustomed to killing his rivals (and their entire families) to protect his power, the execution of a desert prophet who had publicly criticized his marriage to his brother's wife was probably unremarkable.

Transfer of Power

"Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two" (Mark 6:7).

Mark's short description of the first mission of the Twelve is really a description of the church. Jesus sends his followers out to do everything that he has been doing. They have his authority to drive out unclean spirits, to preach and to heal. The Kingdom of God he has proclaimed reasserts the original blessing of right relationships, realigning the minds and hearts of people to God and to neighborhoods of peace and justice that overcome the distortions of fear and self-centeredness.

Prayer, Faith and Miracles

"So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith" (Mark 6:6).

Eyes That See Hope

"My eyes have seen your salvation" (Luke 2:27).

A large man wearing a black overcoat was walking along the street as I drove to work this morning. If a stop sign had not slowed me down, I would have missed the fact that beside him, in the shadow of his wide coat, was a little girl dressed in pink and carrying a bright pink umbrella.