patmarrin's blog

The Gospel, Pure and Simple

“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart” Psalm (111:1).

The teaching of Jesus was rarely new. Like all the prophets before him, he reminded his listeners to observe the commandments and fulfill their part of the Covenant.
But what he often does is ask people to examine their priorities. Put first things first. Do not let rules and rituals or some tradition take precedence over the spirit of the law or the principal commandments. In his encounters with religious leaders, he affirms that the Great Commandment of love of God and of neighbor always comes first.

The Wedding Is On

“New wine, new wineskins” (Mark 2:22).

In today’s short gospel, Jesus is criticized for not observing the regular fasting laws, which the Pharisees and the followers of John the Baptist observe. Jesus compares his presence to a wedding, when fasting is suspended so people can celebrate, eat, drink, sing and dance, often for several days.

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him” (John 1:31).

We Can Forgive Sins

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.’” (Mark 2:4).

Mark’s version of the healing and forgiveness of the paralyzed man lowered through the roof illustrates the power of heaven and earth coming together in Jesus. His Incarnation unites divinity and humanity, making what were formerly seen as exclusively Godlike powers now available to human beings. For God was no longer distant in heaven; God is among us, active in our relationships.

Contaminating Grace

"If you wish, you can make me clean" (Mark 1:40).

After the exorcism performed in the synagogue in Capernaum, followed by a great number of healings in the town, Jesus continues to expand his ministry of preaching and liberation in a dramatic encounter with a leper. God's grace goes freely from synagogue to neighborhood to the outer fringes of society to an untouchable.

Here and Now,

“For this purpose I have come” (Mark 1:38).

Jesus’ mission to communicate God’s offer of grace continues in today’s gospel passage from Mark. His humanity radiates the glory God intended at creation, and so Jesus’ simple touch and presence resets every distortion in our human nature to its original design and purpose.

Accompanying Jesus

“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” (Mark 1:23).

The presence of Jesus, God incarnate in the world, is the first glimpse of the renewal of creation. He is what a human being is meant to be, and wherever he goes, the new reality radiates from his being. Entering the synagogue in Capernaum, he sets off alarms in the unclean spirits in the possessed man, who know that real authority is about to expel them. Something new and decisive has occurred in the order of things, and they are the first to realize that God’s Spirit is taking back the world.

Baptized into Christ

“Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit” (Isa 42:1).

The baptism of Jesus by John must have raised the question in the early church about why Jesus, who was sinless and greater than John, would need to subject himself to John’s baptism of repentance.

The Light of the Incarnation is for All

“The gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).

The visit of the three magi to see Jesus in Bethlehem is another way to acknowledge that the Incarnation of God as a human being was not just for the Jews, but for the whole world. Jewish exceptionalism was rooted in tribal identity and blood, which limited the promise and covenant made to Abraham to his descendants, the Chosen People.

Baptism of the Spirit

"I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Mark 1:7).

The gospels reflect a struggle in the early church between the followers of John the Baptist and the followers of Jesus, which persisted into the first century. The evangelists make clear in their accounts that John never claimed to be the Messiah or that he sought the ultimate loyalty of his disciples. He was a precursor, someone sent by God to prepare the way for another, namely Jesus.