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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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Courageous on Behalf of the Gospel

Jesus revealed himself publicly in the synagogue as the promised messiah. Although initially pleased with his learned exhortations, they quickly begin to question his authority (Luke 4:21-30). Those who knew him as a child or knew his family begin to gossip about him. Hidden in these words is their disbelief that the promised one could possibly be one from their own midst, and a poor man at that! Their acceptance of him swiftly soured into rejection. They no longer wanted to hear what he had to say.

Sometimes we as Catholic Christians, making manifest the same Christ, our Savior, will discover similar rejection and even embarrassment. Speaking the words of God will be difficult, not only because we want to be accepted, but because of how they might touch others. Like medicine, the healing of our Lord comes in a package that may include more preliminary pain before any true healing can take place. The presence of Jesus among his own people would work this way. Some would have to earnestly struggle with his message and presence. For most of his disciples, witnessing for the Master would also cost them their mortal lives; however, in return they would receive everlasting life.

I mention this because there is much about God’s truths that can make us uneasy. God tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you” (see Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19). Most of us were anointed at baptism with the holy chrism as Christian prophets. As children, the challenge afterwards was to be nurtured in the faith by our parents. Later, we were to proclaim it to others as adults. I wonder if we always do that, myself included? It is so easy to get comfortable and to allow others to do all the work of evangelization or Christian witness. However, what would become of a world filled with people so poorly motivated? I shudder to imagine.

The particular wording in Jeremiah is reminiscent of other passages which deal with God calling us, even before we saw the light of day. In the New Testament, the most famous is the one in which the prophet John the Baptist leaps with joy in his mother’s womb when he is near to his Savior still hidden deep inside Mary’s flesh. From the very beginning, each and every one of us is called.

Annually, many citizens of this land march on Washington for the sake of the unborn, a very troubling issue to be sure. Those children who for one reason or another are not wanted, have from the very beginning, been called by God to fellowship with him. Those young women who have faced this crisis, and the many that have made agonizing decisions, have also been called by God. The same could be said for those who are often the invisible partners in this tragedy, the men who have become reluctant fathers. All of them need healing. The woman who makes a poor decision, or who was pressured into doing so, needs to realize the wrongness of what happened, so that true repentance and healing might be achieved. The same sense of scrutiny and responsibility also needs to be accepted in the lives of men who are partners in this holocaust. We can be partners in sin or we can be helpers to one another in grace. As for the child, we believe that God desires the salvation of all. If we should abandon the youngest of children, God will not. They are alive. This realization can be the hardest of all for those who have suffered this dilemma. They are alive. Adopted by the loving arm of the Church; touched by the same love which embraced the children killed by Herod in Christ’s stead; they are alive. As such, they pray for their parents and God willing, wait until we are all rejoined together in Paradise.

Our faith tells us that all are called. No life is to be wasted. All life is precious. 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 tells us that faith, hope, and love are everlasting. When it comes to the truths of our faith or the moral values which the Gospel upholds, we need to be courageous. Do we attend Mass every Sunday in order to worship God in the community? Do we pray a few minutes every day? Do we try to be charitable and peaceful? Do we stand up for our beliefs and for our Church when they are mocked or ridiculed? Do we attempt to correct those in error? Do we use or waste the great gift of life with which God and our parents gave us?

In every new life and in ever old life made new by Christ’s forgiveness, hope is born. What might we become? With God, the possibilities are endless. What are our hopes for each other? A time when children can go to school and play safely? A world that does not throw the precious gift of creation back into God’s face? A future wherein we all meet the goals set for us by God, growing in wisdom and grace, just as Christ once did? We work to achieve these hopes, knowing that in God’s will, all things come in his own good time. We wait in hope, knowing that God calls every one of us. One day the hopes of believers will be realized.

When this happens, it will be because God loved us and loved us first. We exist because of love, the love of God and the love of a man and woman. We live for love; if you do not believe this just try to exist without it. Maybe it all boils down to our responding with the same kind of trusting love with which Christ accepted the Father’s will in his life? Of all visible creation, it is only the human being who can respond back to God in prayer and a life of love.

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

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