patmarrin's blog


Come Late, Come Running

“At midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him” (Matt 25:5).

The parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids describes the expectation of the early church for the return of Jesus, which many believed was imminent. Readiness meant keeping the light of faith strong. But, as the years passed, faith in the second coming waned, and the Gospel writers shifted their focus from an immediate return to the understanding that the risen Jesus was already present with the church through the Holy Spirit, working within history.

Be Prepared

“You must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect the Son of Man will come” (Matt 24:44).

Jesus promises his disciples peace, but it is a dynamic state of openness to surprise and wonder. The grace of the moment is always at hand, so in a spiritual sense, we must be light on our feet and ready to respond to his prompting. St. Paul encourages us to “pray always,” which is to be mindful that God is with us at all times, showing us how to grow and learn.

From Disciple to Apostle

“How do you know me?” (John 1:48).

The call of Nathaniel, also known as Bartholomew, tells us a lot about how disciples become apostles. A disciple is someone who is learning about Jesus. An apostle is someone who knows Jesus enough to be sent to share him with others. The root of the word apostle is “to send.”

Love, First and Last, Above All Else

“You have paid tithes on your spice garden but have neglected judgement, mercy and fidelity” (Matt 23:24)

Jesus calls the religious leaders hypocrites for paying attention to small things but neglecting the weightier demands of the law. In numerous confrontations over the first commandment, Jesus affirmed that love organizes the whole moral and religious life. If we do not understand or if we ignore this priority, keeping every lesser commandment will not add up to real holiness.

The Door is Open

“Woe to you ... hypocrites, who lock the door to the Kingdom of heaven before others. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter” (Matt 23:13).

When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem for the last time before his death, he levels his harshest criticism at the religious leaders who are obstructing people’s access to God. Instead of opening the door to a loving, merciful God, they have made the path to salvation an obstacle course of legal and ritual duties, sacrifices and oaths that serve only to keep them in control.

Enter by the Narrow Door

“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (Luke 13:23).

The path to salvation passes through a narrow gate. Jesus’ own mission took him through a baptism of fire. Every disciple must lose his life to gain it. The treasure we seek will cost us everything. Only those who pick up their crosses can follow Jesus.

With these and other metaphors and parables, Jesus tries to prepare us for our own paschal passage, when we must surrender ourselves to the paradox of his own death and resurrection.

The Bones of the Covenant

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Matt 22:35).

Today’s first reading from Ezekiel 37 is about God’s promise to breathe new life into the “dry bones” of a defeated, exiled nation. As the word of God is spoken through the prophet, a defeated people rises up to renewed life.

The Bones of the Covenant

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Matt 22:35).

Today’s first reading from Ezekiel 37 is about God’s promise to breathe new life into the “dry bones” of a defeated, exiled nation. As the word of God is spoken through the prophet, a defeated people rises up to renewed life.

Come to the Wedding

“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son” (Matt 22:1).

The Parable of the Wedding Feast, recorded in Matthew’s Gospel after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, interprets that tragedy as the result of the failure of the Temple leadership to acknowledge Jesus as the messianic bridegroom. Those invited to the wedding did not come, so the invitation was extended to outsiders, the gentile nations at the margins of the original promise. Matthew makes a point of including both the good and the bad among those brought into the banquet hall.

Mercy Is God's Gift

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard” (Matt 20:1).

The Parable of the Vineyard Workers was another attempt by Jesus to present God’s unconditional gift of mercy. It was addressed to the good people who resented Jesus’ outreach to sinners. They could not understand why God would love sinners as much as those who had been obedient all their lives. They were the vineyard workers who had worked all day in the heat of the sun for the promised full wage. Why should latecomers and slackers enjoy the same full pay they had earned?