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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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A Word to Altar Girls

The presence and participation of girls as altar servers has become fairly commonplace since their official introduction in the 1990’s. Just as we would hope that our young men might be inspired to consider a vocation to the priesthood; it is desired that our young ladies might give some thought toward a calling to the religious life as either a sister or a nun. While it is only “private” revelation, I have routinely shared with our altar girls the following citation from Mary of Agreda’s CITY OF GOD about the Virgin Mary’s service in the temple:

“The priest also gave Her a rule for her occupations and said: ‘My Daughter thou wilt assist at the exercises of divine praise and song in honor of the Lord with all reverence and devotion, and always pray to the Most High for the necessities of his holy temple and of his people, and for the coming of the Messiah.” . . . The most holy Child remained on her knees, while She listened to the words of the priest and then asked his blessing; . . . In the performance of works not commanded Her our Queen and Lady distinguished Herself from other maidens by asking her teacher to be allowed to serve them all. . . . By means of her infused science She understood all the mysteries and ceremonies of the temple; but She was anxious to learn them also by study and practice, as if She were ignorant of them, nor did She ever fail in any ceremony or duty, no matter how small. She was most eager for humiliation and most submissive in her self-contempt; . . .” (pp. 130-132).

If our girls and women can in some small way imitate this kind of model, then the novelty of their service should prove no problem. Notice the word “maidens” in the text? Although not translated, the Roman Canon mentions God’s servants and handmaids. Considering the political climate, such an appreciation would be a wonderful counter-cultural sign of humility, not to men, but to almighty God.

Our Faithful High Priest

Jesus is our High Priest. Unlike the Jewish priests, he was not given his role by human authority and neither did he have any personal sin for which he needed to make an offering. Jesus took upon himself the punishment that was rightfully ours. Certainly his death on the Cross brings immediately to mind the great offense of our sins. We did not deserve such a Savior who would make himself priest and saving victim. Looking upon the Cross should serve as a remedy for our pride and lust, unless we have desensitized ourselves to human suffering. Jesus repairs the damage inflicted by Adam and Eve. His death will render satisfaction for all the sins of their children.

The question is asked, if Jesus died for all, why do we still experience suffering and death? Why are we still punished for original and personal sin? The reason is simple. Christ has won the victory and yet in time we must become receptive of the fruits of his self-offering. It is still possible to reject the saving work of Christ. The providence of God determines who will accept the merits of Christ’s passion. As a people of faith we cry out for the blood of Christ to wash us and to make us new. Such is human freedom that we must will to be saved. We need to cooperate with Christ in breaking the bonds of our enslavement. If we fail to make use of his grace to do so, the fault is ours.

Jesus could surrender himself as a sin-offering because he had been made man; he had the authority to efface our sins because he was almighty God. A wrong against an infinite being could only find reparation from one of equal dignity. While God could have magnanimously forgiven us; he opted to fulfill the demands of divine justice. It is for this reason that in Jesus, both mercy and justice meet.

Christ suffered in his humanity while his divinity gave infinite value to his passion. This is at the heart of Christ’s identity as the God-Man. Jesus bought us back from the devil, literally redeemed us. Christ’s Cross merits all necessary graces. Just as the blood of a paschal lamb delivered the Hebrews from death; Jesus is the new Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and gives us a share in eternal life.

Jesus truly died. He was not play acting as some contend. His soul separated from his body, although his divinity remained with both. The soul of Jesus descended to the dead, the limbo of the fathers or righteous dead of the Old Testament. As the one high priest, he does this to lead the righteous into paradise. His death had unbarred the gates of heaven and now they were free to go to their just reward. Meanwhile, Christ’s body was taken down from the Cross and placed into a borrowed tomb. We know what happens next. Jesus rises body and soul from the grave.

Jesus continues to be our one high priest and mediator to the Father. All Catholic priests participate in this one priesthood, acting at the altar in the person of Christ, head of the Church. His sacrifice is re-presented upon our altars and his grace is infused into men’s souls. Jesus is present to us, albeit invisibly, and he sits at the right hand of the Father as our eternal advocate.

Jesus has made peace to God on our behalf. This reconciliation is sealed in his blood. He has redeemed us and he pleads our cause. His one sacrifice brought with it all the sacrifices of the old law and alone appeased the throne of heaven, the almighty Father. This restoration of the primal unity between God and man will be consummated at the end of the world.

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