patmarrin's blog

Expanding Faith

Sep
17

"I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith" (Luke 7:9).

Luke's Gospel, like his other book, "The Acts of the Apostles," promotes a perspective prevalent in the early church, that the future of the Christian expansion was in the Gentile world. Luke was linked to Paul, who took the Gospel to the Graeco-Roman world, and his Gospel is addressed to "Theophilus," a representative figure of that larger realm.  Especially after the destruction of Jerusalem and the diaspora of both Jews and Christians into the empire, the effort to appeal to a gentile audience was clear. 

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Radical, Unlimited Forgiveness

Sep
16

"Lord, how often must I forgive?" (Matt 18:21).

One reading of history suggests that the rule of law emerged from more primitive times in which a kind or reign of terror predominated. Roving bands of hunter gatherers competed over food, land, water and any other desirable resource in the struggle to survive. Might made right as tribes pillaged weaker neighbors, seizing livestock and enslaving people. It was survival of the fittest. 

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Stabat Mater

Sep
14

"And you yourself a sword of sorrow will pierce so that the thoughts of many will be revealed."

Among the sentient animals of Creation, only the human animal is aware that it will die. This self-conscious realization of eventual death means that every mother giving birth holds her child with the awareness that the life begun with such joy will also end some day in sorrow.

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The Power of the Cross

Sep
13

"He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:7). 

The death of Jesus by crucifixion must have shocked his followers, and the scandal of such a death must have made preaching his Lordship and power as Savior of the world a challenging prospect. When Paul preached in Athens, he held his audience with eloquent arguments from philosophy but was laughed at when he spoke of Jesus as a crucified man who had been raised from the dead. 

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A Time to Decide

Sep
12

"Rejoice and leap for joy on that day" (Luke 6:24)).

One of the great folk songs from the labor movement has the question: "Whose side are you on?" It reminds us that there are times in life when we need to take sides, decide where we stand without equivocation. We cannot be on every side of an issue or call ambiguity our final position on a matter of real importance. 

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Called by Name

Sep
11

"Jesus spent the night in prayer, and whe day came, he called his disciples to himself" (Luke 6:12).

Names held a special significance in the Bible. Someone's name contained their vocation and the grace to complete it. When Jesus called his disciples to himself, he was also identifying their role in his ministry. To be called by Jesus was to receive the power to do what he had called you to do. 

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Expanding Our Hearts

Sep
10

"Stretch out your hand" (Luke 6:10).

Today's readings beg to be connected to the anniversary of September 11, 2001, our national 9-11 remembrance of the tragic day when some 3,000 lives were lost in terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. What can the Word of God say to us today as again this year public officials attempt to gather the lessons of that event.

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Reconciliation

Sep
09

"The one who lives has fulfilled the law" (Rom 13:9).

If mercy is the heart of the Gospel, then reconciliation is the mission of the Gospel. And it is the most challenging and difficult ministry of all. Witness the journey of Pope Francis to Colombia this week, a country that has endured a brutal 50-year civil war that cost 220,000 lives and has left deep wounds, resentments and unresolved divisions. 

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Mother of God

Sep
07

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about" (Matt 1:18).

The story of the mysterious conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is preceded by the complete genealogy of the promise going all the way back to Abraham. It is important for the Gospel and for the full meaning of the Incarnation that we see Jesus emerging not as an isolated event but from the history of the the Chosen People. 

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Do-over

Sep
06

"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." (Luke 5:3).

An experienced fisherman like Peter knew the frustrations of spending the night on the water and catching nothing. The fish were simply not biting. Wherever they dropped their nets, the fish were nowhere to be found. 

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