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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Invitation to the Little Ones

“Father, Lord of heaven and earth, to you I offer praise; for what you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children. Father, it is true. You have graciously willed it so” (see Matthew 11:25-30).

We may remember, that long ago, when the Messiah at last came into the world, he was not all that well accepted. The stories of his rejection are numerous; indeed, they fill the entire Gospel. When he came into the world, he chose to be born like all the rest of us, as a child. In the quiet of a cold night he came, with only a small star shining above to herald this newborn king. But, if he were a king, the only mantle he wore was his swaddling clothes, and his throne, a meager manger among a court of animals. His mother and foster father were simple people, and yet a people made rich in their holiness and love for him. The first to see him were not the elite among his own people, but mere shepherds still covered in the dust and sweat of a hard day’s labor.

Perhaps they saw something of the lamb in him, in a city filled with wolves? And when the wise men or kings finally did come, they saw something akin to them in this child, for they were all strangers in an alien land. So much did they realize it that they fled instead of informing the Jewish king, Herod, of the Messiah’s presence. They did well, for Herod would be the forerunner of all those to come who would reject this child of promise. As a man, Jesus would even speak of himself as the prophet rejected in his own land. The zealots looked for a military general who would come with great blood-letting might and power. The Pharisees looked for one who would come hopefully in the distant future, one who would be like themselves and who would reaffirm their own legalism and security. It was no wonder that they were all terribly disappointed in this Jesus.

He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He associated with the poor and with the unclean. How could he really be important if he found it so easy to relate to these kinds of people. Perhaps, they thought, he was no better than the rest of the trash? He forgave sins — by what authority? He healed the sick — could it be by the power of demons? The so-called learned of Israel would charge him with this!

Messiah? How could he be? He traveled around; surrounded not by other learned scribes but by stupid men of the earth — dumb fishermen and traitoress tax collectors. The only one among them that showed some promise in his foresight and knowledge was the last to join him, that one they called Judas Iscariot. Jesus had virtually nothing more than the clothes on his back and lived essentially from the charity of others. Even the room in which he and his friends celebrated his last supper was simply on loan to them. He himself said one time that the son of man has nowhere to rest his head.

Jesus is the most shining example that just because people may have nothing, it does not mean they are nothing. His life and message has touched us like no other has.

We too need the same kind of humility. The Lord showed just how much when he reprimanded his disciples for keeping curious children away from him. Jesus told them that it was for such as these that his kingdom belonged. We need to become, not childish, but child-like in our lives and faith. It is in this kind of witness that God most brilliantly shines forth. Sometimes things like wealth, social position, and even religion (when they become self-righteous and snobbish), can get in the way of this kind of humility. Like a small child trusting his parents, no matter what — that is the trust we need in regards to our Heavenly Father. The disposition of humility makes us more aware and receptive to the needs of those who are small, weak, broken, and hurting. The irony of our faith, which shines in figures like St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa, is that in Christ weakness can become strength, and adversity an opportunity for miraculous witness.

For more such reflections, contact me about getting my book, CHRISTIAN REFLECTIONS.