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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 Price of Truth

We dispose ourselves for the ever-flowing presence of Christ into our lives in the form of grace, which makes Christ alive inside us. Some thought should be given to the quality of our integrity and the substance of our fidelity.

The Gospel informs us that it was John the Baptist who fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah: “A herald’s voice in the desert, crying, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path’” (Mark 1:2-3; see Isaiah 40:3). The Baptizer knew well that the only path which failed to get lost in detours — the only sword which could cut through the web of men’s lies — the only life-preserver able to preserve us from drowning in our sins — was the commanding authority of the truth. Later, Jesus himself would admit to the Roman procurator Pilate that “The reason I was born, the reason why I came into the world, is to testify to the truth. Anyone committed to the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37). War weary and perhaps tired of governing a rebellious people, Pilate answered as only a stoic could, “Truth, what does that mean?”(see verse 38). And yet, despite his cold manner, he would later admit that he could find no case against this man Jesus. Had the truth begun to break through his armor of indifference or was it merely the plea of a man who no longer cared? Let truth be whatever you want it to be? So many different lands — so many different peoples and gods — so many voices — and so many varying versions of the truth; how could they all be right? Might they all be wrong? Like John the Baptist before him, the peculiar truth of this emerging God would be rejected by most, accepted by a few, and would cost Jesus his life.

The Baptizer before Christ would not easily be silenced. Learned men were sent out to spy upon him and to attempt to trick him. Herod pleaded that he would be finished with his ceaseless mutterings against his adultery with his brother’s wife. However, if the conscience of Herod had been softened by lust and ambition; the voice which stirred from the Baptizer’s soul was a reminder that the sin remained. Eventually, the wild dance of a young girl would so clutter Herod’s reason that he would make an irresponsible pledge of evil, and John’s head would be served on a platter. Jesus, the one foretold by the Baptizer, would also seek to remove the blinders from peoples’ eyes; indeed, so similar were they, that some speculated that he was John raised from the dead. The irony of those words had yet to be realized.

The only sin which would raise Christ’s ire, would be the sin of hypocrisy. His anger erupting in the temple, he called the Pharisees “blind guides!” Supposedly, they were the ones who knew the truth of God and lived it; instead, they sought to distort it in order to preserve their comfortable and respected position in society. The message which Christ preached threatened their safe and elitist life. The multiplicity of laws made it impossible for any save themselves to follow them to the last iota. Nevertheless, if they enforced a cruel scrupulosity upon everyone else; they were lax upon themselves. They failed to recall or reserved to themselves that the spirit of the law was love. Messiah or not, this Jesus had to be eliminated — this truth of his had to be silenced!

That voice in the desert and the truth of Jesus did not perish with them. Christ’s resurrection from the dead vindicated him and his prophet. His message prevailed against the verdict of sinful man. His truth would remain alive and because of its great compelling power, even take root in some of those who betrayed or sought to destroy him and his followers. Peter who denied with his lies three times ever knowing Christ, would one day witness to the truth, at the cost of taking up his own cross. Fear would no longer paralyze his thoughts and actions. Paul who had been so closed-minded to Christ that he approved of the stoning of Stephen, would be wondrously blinded by the light of truth. He would join his words to the truth of Christ: “My prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter, up to the very day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9-10). It is for that day of Christ that we prepare. To do so, we must also testify to the truth of Christ.

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