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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 Mission of the Church

The mission of the Church is to spread the Gospel and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we are sent on mission at the end of Sunday worship each week: “The Mass has ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” We must take our role as missionary seriously. Where is our passion for the Gospel? Why are we not on fire telling people about it?

Certainly, we all relate to our brothers and sisters in different ways. But what does it matter? Everyone has something to contribute. Because of in-depth knowledge of our teachings and the Scriptures, some may be called to add apologetics to the work of winning converts. Others might find themselves in jeopardy if they walked that route, but be exceptional in helping people with their hurts and in touching others through personal charity. Some may relate well with young people who often look for answers in the wrong places. Still others may be able to reveal in ecumenical prayer and service the fraternity of Catholics with other believers in the Lord. We need to bring the Gospel to our homes, to our neighbors, and to our workplaces.

However, if we are going to share our faith, we had best make sure that we are Christians and good Catholics first. We need to nurture a determination to stick with the Church no matter what disappointments may come our way. Some do not do this and the results can be tragic for all. I recall a woman who studied at a Catholic college for four years and was certified to do parochial work. When the new pastor was assigned, he failed to keep a position for her. Along with this disappointment, the Pope reaffirmed that women could never be priests. Well, that was the last straw for her and she left the Church. What is sadder is that she took a few others with her. There are only so many clergy and most of the outreach into the community must be done by the laity. We have to be flexible enough to bounce with the bumps in the road. Doors close and other doors open. We have to be receptive to God’s will, even when we do not entirely understand it. The work is not so much ours, as it is the Lord’s. Some are given the gift of Holy Orders, but there are other gifts, particularly given to the laity, that facilitate the expansion of the Church and the proclamation of the Good News. Married couples are missionaries to their children. Many non-Catholic spouses embrace the faith of their Catholic partner. Single people have the gift of time and availability to help in youth groups, bible study programs, prayer circles, charity endeavors, etc. With the loss of sisters and religious brothers, the laity teach in Catholic schools, CCD and RCIA programs, etc. There are even parishioners that go door-to-door with the invitation to explore the faith and their parishes.

Spreading the faith requires that we grow in the faith, ourselves. We should search in ourselves and with others for a stronger faith and then share it, loving and caring for those with whom we come into contact– keeping in mind that the burden of conversion is held between the individual and God. God changes a wicked person into a saintly one. Our care for the poor, the sick, our families, our neighbors, by our pursuit of social justice, for peace, etc., in all these things we witness for the Gospel.

Souls are not simply converted by highly educated or witty missionaries; rather, they are brought to the Lord through the work of Christ in holy men and women inspired and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Look at Peter, he was an ignorant fisherman! Neither Mary nor Joseph was ordained a priest; and yet, who could estimate the enormous spiritual benefits that both of them have exerted for our well being? The Holy Spirit is the Divine Counselor, who like Father and Son, makes use of frail instruments to achieve his purposes.

While the kingdom of Christ will be realized in God’s good time, the laity and clergy work together for this eventuality. Having spoken about our universal call as missionaries, I would like to say a few words about priestly ministry. Have you ever wondered what it must be like as a priest? He knows the dark secrets of people’s lives and weeps over their sins and the sheep that go astray. He sees more than his share of sickness and dying, particularly those with a regular hospital ministry. Yes, he knows the joy of witnessing marriages; but he also feels the arrogance of those who violate the commandments in dating promiscuity and cohabitation. He sometimes wonders if the young even listen to him. The happiest times are when he baptizes a child; and yet, he can never forget the babies he could not save from abortion. When things go right, God gets the praise and when they go wrong, the priest gets the blame.

People angry with the Church see him as an icon for the institution and assault him for things he had no part in, possibly going back to before he was born. This often happens when priests wearing clerics are recognized in public. When I was a young associate, I recall one fellow on the subway who sat next to me and without any introduction, shouted, “I left the Church thirty years ago, and let me tell you why!” In such situations, the priest wants to get away or argue in return, but he just sits back and listens. “A priest yelled at me in the confessional,” the man says, although he cannot recall what it was about. Such a little thing, and for all we know the poor priest probably had his own demons plaguing him at the time or was maybe just not feeling well. In any case, it was enough to make this man leave the Church. I explained how sorry I was that it happened, and the tone of the conversation changes. I miss my metro stop, but it is okay. His wife recently passed away and he had a bad heart. His mind often went back to his childhood days. Eventually, he asks, “Father, how do I come back to the Church?” What happened? I could not recall saying anything particularly moving. It must have been God’s grace. I take out my purple stole. His eyes open wide. We move to a vacant section of the train, he falls to his knees, and says, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.” When I leave the train a prodigal son is back home. I catch a subway car going in the opposite direction, back to my exit which I missed. When I enter the rectory, I am chastised for my tardiness. I say nothing.

As a sign of contradiction in our culture, the priesthood can be difficult. However, there is also a deep consolation in being an instrument of God’s mercy in a sometimes cold world. The same difficulty should be a daily element in the lives of all Christian believers. Evangelization is not just the business of professional religious people. It is an indispensable part of our baptismal call. We can work together to make the Church a more heart-warming place for all those wounded and searching.

When it comes to Christology, the theological study of Jesus, there are some theologians who seem heavily orientated toward Christmas (the incarnation) and others who branch out from Easter (the resurrection). These are the poles of Christ’s earthly life and both have essential importance. If we are to share Jesus, we must know him.

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

3 Responses

  1. To Pastor…There are still things about the catholic church that I disagree with, I am just trying to say some of the things I said that sounded hateful were based more on passion for what I believe. If you want to hate others of another faith that’s fine. I dont’ know what denomination you are but you sound like a guy who came to our door from Jehovah’s Witness. Perhaps you are a Pastor but if not it is a big title to hide behind. FR JOE, I FEEL SOMEWHAT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HATEFUL WORDS OF THIS PERSON AS I KNOW HE WAS SUPPORTING ME ORIGINALLY. Differences in belief and theology should not lead to name calling.

  2. I cannot believe my eyes! What is wrong with you, Dennis? You go from a courageous witness of the truth against Romanism to submitting yourself as a devoted follower of this slave of the antichrist. I am not a man of hate but we are all called to hate sin and the devil. Do not be like those in your old parish, watering down your Christianity. The issue is not a few catholic beliefs but rather the rotten core of the fruit itself. It is not founded on Jesus but upon the son of perdition. It is the church of Judas where the price of silver weighs more heavily then ransomed sinners. Priests like the one here mimic real Christianity but they are really traitors to all we hold dear. You, yourself, said that the pope is the antichrist. This priest swears obedience to him and defends his every action, even the kissing of the Quran, a demonic book which corrupts and adds to the Word of God. Either attack the fiends or stop reading such blogs of deception. You should either fight Satan or else get out of the way. You are being drawn back into the orbit of Romanism. It is a black hole that will swallow you! Do not apologize to the slave of the beast! Let me repeat, do not apologize to the slave of the beast! I am so upset I can barely restrain myself. You even close your comment by rendering a blessing toward the papist man of deceit. What is wrong with you? When you do that you are rubber stamping everything he says. You are giving in! You cannot make friends with the lost! He is not saved! Indeed, he is an agent of darkness! You can be a brother to me and other true believers; but, you cannot be a brother in Christ with the catholic spawn of the devil. Papists worship statues or graven images, in violation of the commandments! They censored the commandments to hide this fact. Papists worship Mary as a pagan goddess and yet we are to worship God alone! There goes another commandment. They worship a cookie and call it Jesus! This is the ultimate idolatry. The Jesus they adore and the Jesus you and I know are not the same. They believe they can eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus! Yes, they demand a superstitious form of cannibalism. They think water baptism over babies can save them aside from a mature personal faith! Thus, most their people never come to a personal and saving faith in Christ. They believe the pope is a substitute for Jesus Christ and that his word is law. Indeed, whatever he says and does trumps the Word of God. This is absolute nonsense!

    Dennis, wake up and repudiate your soft words. Dennis, speak the truth with courage. Dennis, this priest is not worthy of blessing but stands under the curse of almighty God. Dennis, you are on the right track, do not derail now. The end times are upon us and you cannot belong to Christ’s kingdom and seek fellowship with the slaves of the beast.

    FATHER JOE:

    I think I have had about all I can stand of this guy. Does he not see that his nastiness works against all his claims? Dennis is trying to be a gentleman. This Pastor fellow is making no attempt at civility.

    I am not a slave of the antichrist. Rather, I know the freedom that comes as a child of God and one who has faith in Jesus Christ. The foundation stone of the Church is Jesus Christ and he has given us our shepherds, including the Pope, to lead his community in the world. The popes are successors to St. Peter who was given the charge of the keys to the kingdom. Along with other Catholics, I live in the sure and certain hope of my salvation in Jesus Christ. Sinners, including clergy, can know the mercy of God. We entrust ourselves to divine mercy.

    The economy of images is changed by the incarnation. In Jesus Christ, God has taken upon himself a human face. Now something of the Creator can be communicated by his creation. Pictures or images are not worshipped but remind us of our Lord and the saints. Just as we decorate our homes with the pictures of people we love, we do the same in our churches.

    Mary is not a goddess but is the handmaid of the Lord who becomes the Mother of our Savior. Jesus kept the commandments and love and honored her. We imitate Jesus in doing the same. The Mother of the Redeemer has become the Mother of all the redeemed. All worship finds its proper object in God.

    The Eucharist begins as unleavened bread and wine. Our Lord commanded that we renew his covenant by repeating his Supper. The priest is configured to Christ who is our one high priest. At the altar he says, “This is my body” and “This is the cup of my blood.” A covenant cannot be made in fake flesh and blood. A genuine sacrifice is required. Jesus meant what he said. “”He said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood,’ you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.'” Jesus is not a liar. We take him for his word and receive him in Holy Communion.

    Whole households were converted in the early days to the new faith. These homes included children. The practice of infant baptism goes back to the apostolic period and was not made up later. We do not come to God alone. We are to support and nurture the faith of others, beginning with our children. Ultimately they will lay claim to the great gift given them as members of Christ’s body or Church.

    The road Dennis has chosen is his own, but I hope he will know that the road back to Catholicism is never closed. In any case, it is a way to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, despite your propaganda of hate and lies.

  3. This article was very enjoyable reading, as are the others you do. I know you think I am a man of hate but I am not. I am a person with a great deal of passion and felt the sermons I was hearing at my parish were watered down. Part of hybrid Christianity.

    As I reflect I knew some of the catholic church’s beliefs would be hurdles. I don’t need to go into detail, we have discussed them. I am sorry for any sorrow I have caused and I am actually crying as I write. God bless you FR JOE.

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