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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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Priestly Celibacy: What is a Priest? What is He Not?

The priest is many things. He is physician, judge, teacher, servant and father. His celibacy amplifies all these models of the priesthood and more. His single-hearted love acts as a catalyst, focusing and intensifying his efforts as a priest of God. He is Jesus feeding the multitude, healing the sick and chasing the money-changers out of the temple at the end of a whip. His compassion never compromises upon the truth. He belongs wholly to Christ and to his Church. He is one with the Good Shepherd, ready and willing to lay down his life to protect his lambs against the robber and the wolf. He is the champion of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized— indeed, on behalf of all who are weak, vulnerable and voiceless.

The celibate priest is not caught up with the obligations of family life. Rather, in addition to his ministry, he pursues long hours of study and prayer. It is expected that he exerts an intense mental life, seeking always to understand so that he might be a vessel for truth and meaning. People want answers. They are yearning for meaning. Many have come to embrace chaos, thinking that there is no God and that creation is a cosmic accident. Priests let them know that God is real and that he cares. Repeatedly he reminds a dubious world of three important themes: freedom, love and evil. Creation, salvation history, and our own struggles can be understood in the context of these three factors. God freely created us out of love. Man freely rebelled, rejecting God’s love and falling into bondage to evil. God promised redemption and lovingly called us back to fidelity. Love was born in human flesh with Jesus Christ. God did not have to save us but he freely entered the human family. Our Lord freely embraced the Cross and died for us. He had every reason to hate us. We betrayed him. We murdered him with our sins. He loved us so much that he forgave us and offered us a share in his life. Now we are called to freely love him in return, taking up our crosses and following him. We were evil and still in our sins. But he grants us mercy and healing. Our priests perpetuate the love of Christ, a love that faces down evil, brings forgiveness, and renders a share in eternal life. Over and over again, we see these three themes played out.