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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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A Priest Echoing the Voice of Jesus

Reflecting upon my own formation, we had opportunities for clinical pastoral care but were offered little in the way of understanding human psychology. Priests can certainly become proficient counselors over time but rarely just out of the seminary. The priest learns a great deal over the years as he undergoes his trial by fire. He becomes a master on the human condition, both good and bad. Of course, few clergy are professional psychologists or social workers. We are ministers of the Gospel and priests of the altar. We speak the language of faith in a world that has an increasingly difficult time with translation. We want to save marriages and better people’s lives, but always in terms of the redemptive work of Christ. We desire for people to find healing in a personal and corporate relationship with the Lord.

When a priest or teacher begins to talk about Jesus and religion, some people turn us off. Young people often do this and have not yet mastered masking their distraction. They know from their primary catechism that Jesus loves us but have rarely reflected upon what this really means. The full sacrificial dimension of this love has yet to seep deep into their soul and personality. They can recite the theme but do not feel its significance. If they truly appreciated the depth of Christ’s love, they would be brought to tears and would eagerly try to expunge sin from their lives. Jesus loved us so much that he died for us, to forgive our sins. This was no stoic act, but one filled with conviction and emotion. God would have us receive and return this love in kind. I would pointedly ask each listener, “Jesus loves YOU, what does this mean to YOU?” Jesus dies for them by name. He knows them better than they know themselves. He knows the problems they face and is ready to shower his grace upon them. Jesus can help and he wants to help. But have we truly invited Jesus into our life? Is he real for us or just a name we hear in church and read in the Bible? Jesus had to deal with feelings of abandonment and fear as well. The agony in the garden resonates with our own fears and sense of loneliness. You may have cried in your pillow but he wept at the death of his friend Lazarus and again when he sweated blood on the Cross. Jesus had his own relationship troubles. The leadership of his own people sought his life and his beloved apostle Judas betrayed him. His family thought that he was out of his mind. His friends often failed him. He knew, first hand, what we all go through. Maybe we have sought compensation in material things? Maybe we have raised the value of money and things over the needy and faith? Maybe the desires of the flesh have supplanted a true love of persons and God? Maybe our response has been to turn inward instead of outward? Jesus tells us to look to him. The answer is not to be found in the distractions of the world. He is the Way and the Truth and the Life.

There are many voices in the world that would lie to us. They tell us that happiness can be found in a bottle, drugs or sex. They are traps set by the evil one and his minions. Such paths are dead-end roads that will leave us with a sense of nowhere out. Too many who get lost listening to these voices are tempted to destroy themselves, wrongly thinking that it is one way out of the cage of a painful and meaningless existence. But this is the final lie on the road to hell. Instead, we listen to the voice of Jesus. He knows what you are facing and he wants to help you. Jesus is himself the medicine for the soul. He wants us to share his life and love. He will give his Spirit to any who ask. It does not matter what we have done. God is gracious and merciful.