patmarrin's blog

Greatness Through Service

"The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve" (Matt 20:28).

We should be grateful for the audacity of the "Sons of Thunder" and their mother for pressing the issue of greatness among the disciples of Jesus. His response to the attempt by James and John to jockey themselves into privileged status occasioned Jesus' clear instruction to all his disciples on the nature of leadership through service: "You know that worldly leaders lord it over others and their great ones make their authority over others felt. But it shall not be so among you."

Prayer and Hospitality

“Knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:10).

In his teaching on effective prayer, Jesus makes clear that forgiveness of one another is how we open our hearts to God’s forgiveness. A closed fist cannot easily receive a gift. The human heart has one door, and if it is closed to others it is also closed to God, who so often comes to us in the guise of our neighbor.

Woman, Why Are You Weeping?

“They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him” (John 21:13).

There are several instances in the gospels where it is recorded that someone weeps. These scenes depict a person on the threshold of intense suffering that is also a kind of baptism toward deeper awareness and transformation. Peter’s bitter tears after his betrayal of Jesus reduce him to helpless emptiness in preparation for the gift of mercy he will later receive from Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias.

Hear the Parable, See the Invitation

“This is why I speak to them in parables …” (Matt 13:14).

Jesus, like his prophet predecessors, offered images and parables, little stories that the listener had to compare to their own situations to get the message. A sower goes out to sow. How does this apply to me? A woman takes yeast and makes bread. How does this apply to me?

Listen Up!

“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear” (Matt 13:9).

Anyone who is following the campaigns and conventions leading up to the 2016 presidential election will know the power of storytelling. This month and in the months to come until November, we will be inundated with images, words, analysis and commentary designed to persuade us that this or that story, personified in this or that candidate, best fits the reality of our nation, our society and ourselves.

The Sign of Jonah

“An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet" (Matt 12:39).

Entertaining Angels

“You are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing” (Luke 10:42).

Hospitality is the “one thing necessary." If Jesus is God’s gift to us, then to receive him as fully as possible is the necessary response that opens us to every other grace. Today’s Gospel story is about two different levels of hospitality. Jesus does not reject Martha’s practical service, but he does praise Mary for welcoming him first and foremost into her heart.

Mercy and the Rules

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Matt12:8).

Pope Francis’ summary letter after the two synods on the family in Rome emphasized the need for church rules to meet the reality of married couples’ actual experience, especially for those in second unions. The focus was on the reception of Communion, which the pope has repeatedly said was “the medicine of mercy and not a reward for the righteous.”

Being Fully Human

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:30).

In this famous and encouraging passage from Matthew's Gospel (11:28-30), Jesus first praises the little ones who grasp the revelation of God's kingdom. They see and accept what the "clever and learned" people miss. God is present to the poor in their ordinary struggles, hopes, fears and joys.

Being Fully Human

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt 11:30).

Jesus first praises the simple and humble for recognizing the presence of God in their lives. He then invites everyone to step into the human condition, its ordinary challenges and burdens, a the most natural way to live.