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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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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

[112] Sunday, August 3, 2014
1 Isaiah 55:1-3 / Psalm 145 / 2 Romans 8:35, 37-39 / Matthew 14:13-21

These words in the first reading were written toward the end of the Babylonian exile. God’s people looked forward to a restoration and the coming of the Messiah. Much in these oracles will find fulfillment in Christ. We read, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” Jesus invites the Samaritan woman at the well to receive his water and never to thirst again. When facing the prospect of arrest from the Pharisees, he tells his listeners, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him’” (John 7: 37-38). The first reading emphasizes the gratuity of God— toward the poor, the hungry, and to a people lost in the desert. They are now invited home. Jerusalem shall be rebuilt. God will keep his promises. Basic longings will be satisfied. Of course, God has something planned for them way beyond any political restoration or earthly riches. More than a new temple in Jerusalem, we would have in Christ a King who ushers in a heavenly kingdom. The prophet told them not to waste their time and energies on that which does not satisfy. The emphasis is upon the Giver, and our coming to the Lord “heedfully” or freely. It is God, himself, who satisfies our basic longings. Prophesy is fulfilled. Jesus proclaims the truth to which the crowds “listen” with hope. At the Last Supper, Jesus speaks of his oblation and Eucharist as a new and “everlasting covenant.” Second Isaiah spoke about how the Messiah would come that they “may have life.” Jesus, of the line of David, conquers the grave and gives us a share in his life.

The responsorial reaffirms the how God provides for the needs of his people. He gives “them their food in due season.” Jesus uses references to water to speak about new life in him. He also institutes the Eucharist to feed his people the bread of life. We were made for God. Our drink and food is literally the Lord, himself. Just as we are told that nothing compares to the gift of God, who satisfies every need; the second reading stresses that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of Christ. People might give up on God but the Lord never gives up on us.

Jesus is the living compassion of God. The Gospel says that “his heart was moved with pity” for the crowd and he responds by healing their sick. The people of old wandered the desert seeking a promised land; here the Lord enters the desert to abide with his people and to feed them. There is a two-fold movement. We approach the Lord and he comes to meet us. He feeds their bodies. But this feeding points to the more profound food of the Eucharist. Here he multiplies fish and bread. In the sacrament he extends his very self. All receive the same, the fullness of Christ. Notice that God’s bounty is overflowing. Similarly, we reserve the Blessed Sacrament in out tabernacles. God continues to abide with us.

People want so many things and are often satisfied with that which has little or no real value. During the days of the Confederacy, there were a number of wealthy men in the south. But what would a million dollars mean to them after the Civil War? Their bills would have no monetary value. Many became bankrupt. Today a person might want a fancy car or an 80 inch SMART television screen. But what value would these things have if there should be no gasoline or if a solar flare should destroy our electrical plants? A horse and a book might then have more immediate value. And yet, these too could be stripped from us. Today we have brothers and sisters who face persecution and the prospect of death for the “crime” of being a Christian. Many become martyrs because they trust that God will not abandon them. The treasure of Christ is the one prize that time, misfortune, death or evil men cannot take away from us.