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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 Old Testament Witness of Marriage

The Old Testament offered various marriages as symbolic of God’s relationship with his Chosen People (as with Hosea and Gomer). While Israel was constantly unfaithful, he would bring her forgiveness and seek to woo her back to himself. This understanding becomes more serious in the New Testament in that marriage signifies the relationship between Christ and his Church. It is not for man to redefine marriage or its parameters. It is entirely of God’s design (see Genesis). It points to something beyond itself. Catholics would appreciate this mystery as a sacrament.

There are a number of significant marriages detailed in the Old Testament:

  • Adam and Eve;
  • Abraham, Sarah and Hagar;
  • Isaac and Rebekah;
  • Jacob, Rachel and Leah;
  • Boaz and Ruth;
  • David, Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maachah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah and Bathsheba; and
  • Hosea and Gomer the harlot.

Polygamy was sometimes practiced early in the Old Testament but as with the Muslims today it was probably rarely practiced due to the expense. The Jews practiced a two-tiered marriage, as with see with Mary and Joseph. Jesse Jackson got into some trouble years ago for saying at a Democratic Convention that Mary was an unwed mother. According to Jewish law, however, she was married already. The first stage was betrothal and the second was when the woman came to live in the husband’s house. A dowry was paid to a woman’s father making her his property. The problem with this set up was that it might bypass the woman’s consent. When the man brought the woman to his house, there will be a big celebration or feast in the community.

The Song of Songs celebrates the joys of physical love. Following a terrible curse, we have the poignant night prayer of Tobiah and Sarah. From profane to profound, we see the whole gambit of human love. The old marriage prayers stressed the married life was among the greatest joys not forfeited by original sin or washed away by the flood. The joy and fruitfulness of married life was deemed as a sign pointing to God’s favor and the promise of redemption. A good marriage was thus a taste of heaven.

The new dispensation of Christ would build upon God’s plan seen in Genesis and creation. Further, since the Church was the new People of God, the marriage analogy would refer to Christ and his Church.