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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 Kiss of Death

The title chosen for this subheading might make one imagine a romantic setting where some daring spy has an affair with a deadly enemy agent. Such is how our minds and imaginations work these days. The arachnologist might fantasize in some poor anthropomorphic way about the love of two black widow spiders. The male was under her spell. Did he know that her embrace guaranteed new life and the end of his own? Snap! She bites off his head — oblivion, the end of a relationship — now he is merely fodder for a patricidal cannibalistic brood. Sweet and deceptive is the kiss of death. Perhaps the maiden being drained of her blood by a vampire in a late-night B-movie would think so? I digress enough. While these might make interesting if not sick asides; what I want to mention briefly is a far more realistic kiss, a kiss which has touched the lives of each and every one of us.

It is the story about a lonely figure in a garden. His friends are asleep. He had hoped they could spend awake what little time he had remaining with them, but alas, the flesh was too weak. All are asleep, except for one other. He had called this man friend. He had trusted him with their traveling purse. He had called him to follow him by name. And if Christ most loves the sinner, then this was the one man besides his beloved John whom he held closest to his heart. His name was Judas Iscariot. He came quietly in the night. Drawing near, he greeted his Master with a kiss. It had begun. All the sin that had ever erupted into the world, or whichever would, was a part of that kiss. A thousand, a million, no a billion and more lips touched his check in a gesture which should have meant love. Instead, it was an act of the direst betrayal. Voices in history would echo the cry, “It would have been better if this man had never been born!” (see Mark 14:21). Maybe it is so. Does he now reside beside Satan? I don’t know. What tears he must have cried in knowing that he could not force Christ to be something he was not. No, Jesus would not liberate with arms or with trumpet blasts. He would submit. He would die.

The seeming irony of our faith is that the kiss of death on our part, the hypocrisy of its false love is turned around by real love, a love which gives life and not death. Maybe like the sinner woman who dared to enter into the Pharisee’s home to wash Christ’s feet with her tears and later to dry them with her hair, we too need to see that the strangeness of God’s ways are not always ours? He comes not for the righteous but for the sinner; not for the rich but for the poor; not for the satisfied but for those still hungry. He comes not waving a sword but pierced by one.

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