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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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Make Disciples of the Whole World

Mark has Jesus appearing to his friends at table in Mark 16:9-15 and takes note of the fact that they were at first hesitant to believe that he had risen from the dead. Mark says that Jesus “took them to task for their disbelief and their stubbornness, since they had put no faith in those who had seen him after he had been raised.” Remember, all except for John, had fled into hiding and Peter had denied ever knowing him. They had practically given up on Jesus. His resurrection was now an occasion for Jesus to call them back to faithfulness — to call them back to life.

Acts 4:13-21, shows us just how very successful Jesus was. Peter and John answered the priests and elders with courage and honesty: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight for us to obey you rather than God. Surely we cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen.” There is no way under God’s heaven that they can keep quiet now. Just as Jesus aided them to make a huge catch; now he will fulfill his promise to make them fishers of men. He tells them to go out and to make disciples of the whole world.

We also need to be so enthusiastic with the message of Easter that we have to proclaim it to everyone we meet. Jesus is alive! And, what’s more, he wants all of us to have a share in his life. In a world steeped in sin, suffering, and death, this message is as vital today as ever before. In our prayer, our witness, and our proclamation we must bring this to people still blinded by the darkness of oppression and suffering. Just as the disciples were able to cure the lame man which incited an interrogation; we too can offer healing to others, if not always in body, then at least in spirit. We are the hands and feet and mouths of the risen Christ in the world — he lives in us!

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

Out of Prison

Imagine that you are in prison. You are afraid. You have been whipped and mocked. Your feet are bound down in chains. A guard is at the door and there seems no way of escape. Who knows, maybe they will beat you more tomorrow? Maybe they will go even further? Can you imagine how desperately you might want to escape and run away?

Paul and Silas find themselves in this situation (Acts 16:22-34). However, instead of betraying their cause or crying out in despair and fear — they sing songs. They pray and sing hymns to God. The other prisoners listen and maybe find some consolation in their hymns. Suddenly, there is an earthquake. The guard is asleep. The doors fly open. The chains are pulled loose. Run! Run! This is the natural human sentiment. It is probably what most of us would do. Get out of there quick! Hide! Escape! Freedom!

The guard awakens and thinking that the prisoners have escaped, he draws his sword to commit suicide. He is like us. He feels that he has run out of options. If he takes his life, the authorities may spare his family. However, Paul shouts out, “Do not harm yourself! We are still here.” The jailer cannot believe it. He calls for a light, and there in the shadows are Paul and Silas. He falls at their feet. Why did they not escape? They speak to him and he asks them what he would have to do to be saved. Their action is changing him.

Suddenly he is more concerned about the salvation offered from God then simply avoiding the punishment from his superiors. His fear evaporates. He himself takes them out of the prison and to his household. He bathes their wounds and then Paul bathes him and his family in the waters of baptism. With a table spread out, they all then celebrate the newfound faith.

A jailor, whom many of us would have thought about murdering, was himself saved by God. There have been similar stories during our own age, where the witness of Christians in prison has lead to the conversion of their persecutors. We may not find ourselves behind bars for our faith, but we may sometimes be prisoners nonetheless. We can hide our faith behind the bars of indifference, prejudice, or even just laziness. We often fail to try to move people we love to greater faith in Jesus and we practically forget about those we dislike. Indeed, instead of praying and working for the conversion of all, we might be very selective in whom we choose to confide about Christ. Paul was not. Friend or foe, male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, ugly or beautiful— the Gospel is meant for all.

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