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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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The Sacrifice of Jesus and the Church

The Old Testament prophet speaks about the restoration of Zion and Jerusalem (see Isaiah 62:1-5). His words are quite eloquent and filled with hope. Remember that the people of God had been dispossessed and their nation and its temple destroyed. Such a testimony would seem like foolishness to many. It is no wonder that at the end of their exile, if not of their subjugation, they rebuilt the temple and expected the eminent coming of the Messiah. However, a few years after the crucifixion of Christ, Jews and Christians alike found themselves persecuted with vigor by Rome and the temple was destroyed. Along with it the Jewish priesthood and their ritual sacrifices came to an end. Non-Catholic Protestant fundamentalists and certain Jewish authorities view the political restoration of Israel today as the beginning of a more complete fulfillment of the ancient prophecy. Indeed, the Scriptures were publicly cited when the United Nations recognized the re-establishment of Israel. “You are to be a crown of splendor in the hand of the Lord, a princely diadem in the hand of your God; no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken,’ nor your land ‘Abandoned,’ but you shall be called ‘My Delight’ and your land ‘The Wedded,’ for the Lord takes delight in you and your land will have its wedding” (Isaiah 62:3-6).

As Catholic Christians we do not associate the state of Israel with the promised restoration of God’s nation. Instead, the New Zion or Jerusalem is the Church. Corinthians 12:4-11 recognizes that there are differing roles in the Church and varying gifts of the Spirit. The old sacrifices of the temple are replaced by the one oblation of Jesus who is both priest and victim. We renew and make present his saving covenant by celebrating the Lord’s Supper— in other words, the Mass— in our churches.

Every Christian priest participates in the one priesthood of Jesus. Every Mass is a re-presentation (in an unbloody but real and spiritual way) of the sacrifice of Calvary. Just as Hosea and others in the Old Testament used the marriage analogy between God and his people, Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is his bride. The Mass is a participation in the heavenly wedding banquet that finds mention in Isaiah. St. Paul will speak eloquently about how a husband should love his wife as Christ has loved his Church. The Jews were right in their hope two thousand years ago for a Messiah; the tragedy is that only a few recognized him when he came. When he comes again, he will not forget his own— either in the Church or among the first people chosen by God.

John 2:1-11 carries forward the general theme of marriage with the wedding feast at Cana. Note the intercessory role of Mary, even after Christ’s objection, “Woman why turn to me?” There is no argument. Joseph is gone and Jesus is the head of her household. She brings concerns to him and he takes care of them. He provides. Her answer is a command to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus had said that “My hour has not yet come,” and yet, the power of her faith moves him to freely comply. Jesus would later tell his listeners that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, they could move mountains. There is no competition or tension between Jesus and Mary. This marriage feast was obviously for dear friends, maybe even relatives, and nothing should spoil its joy. Jesus turns water into wine. This is the first of his signs. At his own wedding banquet, he will turn wine and bread into his body and blood.

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