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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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Love or Intimidation?

Sometimes the Church is falsely charged with the wrongful coercion of people into guilt-trips and/or with brain-washing the young through religious indoctrination. This allegation is unfair. What the Church wants people to know is that while we are guilty as sinners, we can know the forgiveness of sins in Christ. Religious formation in the truths of faith respects human freedom and conscience; but, objective truth remains what it is. Others skip condemnation of the Church and directly charge the Judeo-Christian God with intimidation and harshness, especially in regard to hell and judgment. Believers would argue that the critics have it backwards; intimidation and/or manipulation are precisely the tools of sin and the relationship of devils. If there is no genuine love, what other cohesive force is there for control? C. S. Lewis paints an image in his writings of big devils that literally eat the lesser ones– in other words, they use them to their own advantage without regard to their personhood and rights. Sometimes we might paint a picture of God’s justice that falsely falls into such a category. Hellfire images that threaten damnation from a wrathful God are a case in point. Do not get me wrong. Fearing the loss of heaven and suffering the fires of hell have their place. These are real tragedies. But people choose this fate for themselves, more so than by divine imposition. The prophets and our Lord were willing to endure any hardship for the saving message they delivered. Did they do this out of fear of almighty God or out of love? The answer is love. A true parent does not abuse or lie or callously manipulate children. Rather, he or she speaks the truth, even when it is unpopular, and makes every sacrifice to insure the well being of the family. May we all be imitators of God and speak with his voice.

An anonymous story forwarded to me some years back speaks to the sacrificial love we should all live out:

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a disease and needed a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.” As the transfusion progressed, he lay in the bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give Liza all of his blood.

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

One Response

  1. What a thing for a child to do believing he would give his life up for his sister.

    What a precious gift he gave.

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