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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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Mercy and Justice Meet in Jesus

Just as Jeremiah images the blind and lame as among the throng returning from exile, Jesus pays particular attention to the crippled and blind. The Gospel scene in Mk 10:46-52 is very touching and telling. Bartimaeus is a blind beggar who has heard about the miraculous deeds of Jesus. Now that Jesus is nearby, he calls out to him. People literally scold him to keep quiet. He shouts all the louder. The crowd did not want to hear him. Maybe they were even ashamed of his presence? Nevertheless, while their ears and probably their hearts are closed to the beggar, Jesus hears his cry. Note what Bartimaeus says, “Son of David, have pity on me!” He is acknowledging that Jesus is a descendant of David and from his royal line is to come the Messiah and Savior of Israel. The beggar cries for mercy, but attached to his plea is a profession of faith in our Lord. When Jesus calls him over, the sentiment of the throng seems to change. There is a total about-face. “You have nothing whatever to fear from him! Get up! He is calling you!” There is a two-fold action. This remains an element of discipleship. We cry out for mercy and God hears our prayer. We seek God and he seeks us out. Note what Bartimaeus does. He throws aside his cloak, jumps up, and comes to Jesus. As a blind beggar he probably had little else besides his one cloak. No doubt he slept and sat upon it, lest it be blown away or stolen. Instead of grasping it tightly around him while walking to Jesus, he throws it aside. He no longer needs what is literally his security blanket. He will be able to find it afterwards because he believes that he shall soon see. He wastes no time and jumps up. Such should be our disposition when God calls us. When he reaches Jesus, our Lord does something a bit peculiar, no doubt for the crowd. He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” We might ask, is it not obvious? The beggar responds, “I want to see.” What else might he ask? Was Jesus hoping for another answer? In any case, the gift of sight is given him. No more mention is made of the cloak. The beggar’s old life has been swept away. He sees, not only with physical eyes, but with eyes of faith. Jesus tells him, “Be on your way! Your faith has healed you.” Here is where we get a hint as to what Jesus wanted to hear from the beggar. His eyes open, Bartimaeus follows him up the road. He becomes one of the many followers or disciples of Jesus. Can you imagine what laughter would have resulted had he answered Jesus’ question, “I want to be your disciple.” Nevertheless, the result here is the same. Tradition suggests that many of those given restored sight and made able to walk would later be blinded and crippled again in the persecution of the Christian saints. Their little faith that brought healing would blossom into a great faith meriting a share in Christ’s eternal life.

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

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