patmarrin's blog

Inspiring Service

Sep
05

"She got up immediately and waited on them" (Luke 4:39).

Jesus is chased from his hometown of Nazareth, but the people of Capernaum receive him with faith, and the miracles never stop. As a tumultuous day ends and the sun is going down, the crowds bring their sick and possessed and Jesus lays hands on them and cures them.  

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Authority

Sep
04

"They were astonished at his teaching, because Jesus taught with authority" (Luke 4:32).

The word "authority" describes the source of something. An author is the creative source of a book or play. Someone in a position of authority determines the shape and direction of policy.

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Labor of Love

Sep
03

"Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:24).

Jesus inaugurates his ministry in his own home town of Nazareth by reading a crucial Messianic passage of Scripture from Isaiah, then telling the crowd in the synagogue that it has been fulfilled in their hearing. The work of redeeming the world will focus on the poor, the blind, oppressed and imprisoned anawim, God's beloved. 

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Duped by God

Sep
02

"You duped me O Lord, and I let myself be duped" (Jer 20:7).

The Prophet Jeremiah bore the wrath of Judah for delivering God's judgment that the city of Jerusalem would be conquered and its people carried off in bondage to Babylon. When he was called to be a prophet, he may have envisioned a much different role-- that he would have brought good news or been the one to save Judah by his prophetic warning. But he is destined to prophecy doom and to be himself a man of sorrow and derision.

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The Mercy Door

Aug
31

"Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour" (Matt 25:13).

Many of the parables of Jesus recorded toward the end of Matthew's Gospel have a sense of urgency and decisiveness about them. Disciples need to stay alert and remain faithful at a time when the early church was expecting the return of the Risen Christ.  It will be a time of judgment, reward and punishment.  

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Surprise!

Aug
30

"Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come" (Matt 24:42).

We spend so much energy trying to bring order and predictability to our lives. And when we succeed, our lives settle into familiar patterns that create the illusion of normalcy. 

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Monumental Hypocrisy

Aug
30

"If we had lived in th days of our ancestores, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophet's blood" (Matt 23:30).

We have seen much in the news of late about the power of monuments. Figures chosen for statues in public places  as heroes often do not meet the test of time, and changing perspectives challenge their roles in history. Civil War memorials glorifying men who fought to preserve slavery are rightly seen as an affront to the descendants of slaves and to the national ideal of equality that emerged from that bloody conflict.  

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Herod and John

Aug
28

"Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody"  (Mark 6:20).

One of the crime mystery programs on television concludes its promos with the words "don't watch alone." The promise of something shocking is meant to tease the audience into watching, but there are some stories that are more than shocking in what they reveal of human weakness, cowardice and brutality.  The death of John the Baptist is one of these stories.

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Indignation

Aug
27

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites" (Matt 23:13).

Someone once said that indignation is the strongest expression of love.  We measure Jesus' criticism of the scribes and Pharisees in the light of this truth. The Gospels show countless scenes in which Jesus tries to connect with these religious leaders, eating with them, debating with them, answering their questions and attacks with an attempt at genuine dialogue. 

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Church Authority

Aug
26

"Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven" (Matt 13:17).

Matthew 13:18 has long been used to prove that the Catholic church and in particular the succession from Peter to the current pope is God's authorization on the one true church.  Peter is the rock on which the church is built, and Peter receives the keys that open and close the gates of heaven.

Matthew might not object, but he loaded nuance into this passage in the first century before anyone imagined such a thing as papal succession.  

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