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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 Courageous or Timid Church?

Msgr. Pope touches a cord on the Archdiocesan Blog that is very dear to my heart, the fact that a “timid” Church is in contradiction to its very nature as a sign of contradiction in the world.

Msgr. Pope speaks of the new secularized faith as “Sad, pathetic, wrong, and cowardly—hardly the revolutionary faith that got Paul arrested. . . . We have got to rediscover how revolutionary our Catholic faith truly is to this world gone mad. And as we proclaim healing and an allegiance to something other than this world, we will become increasingly obnoxious to the world around us. . . . No tame, domesticated Christianity will threaten or change this world. When Paul preached, the people rioted. Modern preaching too often incites only yawns and indifference.”

St. Paul and the other apostles did not qualify the Gospel and so they faced arrest, torture and martyrdom. The early Church was persecuted precisely because the truths of Christ allowed for no compromise or tolerance for participation in false worship. Even a pinch of incense to the Roman gods or to the so-called divine emperor was too much. Today’s world misconstrues the incident of the Roman coin and the likeness of the emperor. When Jesus said give to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, he was avoiding a trick to have him either arrested by the authorities or to be rejected by the crowds as a traitor. Ours is a jealous God. What belongs to him? The answer is everything, even Caesar! Many in contemporary society play games with their Christianity. They create a false image of Christ to follow, one that would have fit in nicely with the pantheon of ancient pagan deities. Indeed, the battle over religious liberty is a symptom of this— as if believers could restrict their faith and values to the inside walls of churches and during Mass. And yet, the dismissal at the end of Mass echoes our commission to take the Good News out into the world. The ideal is not co-existence with the world or evil but rather to plant the seeds for repentance and conversion. Today many Catholics are silent upon important issues. A candidate for the office of governor in Maryland is a “practicing Catholic” and yet he is on the record as pro-abortion, yes even for allowing partial-birth infanticide. How can we reconcile this with the faith? The issues continue to mount: no fault divorce and remarriage, same-sex marriages, lack of support for parochial schools, contraception giveaways in public schools, free contraception, abortion on demand and growing sympathies for euthanasia. Sins are counted as rights and Catholics and their Church are expected to fall in line. Wimpish silence satisfied in the past, and that was bad enough, but today complicity is demanded.

St. Paul would exorcize the demonic, not try to accommodate it. Too often we hear from churchmen that we do not want to alienate politicians on “other issues” that are important to us, like the status of immigrants, or just employment, or the dismissal of capital punishment, or tax breaks for churches, etc. We cower to the power of the secular world when we should bring the authority of Christ to bear on the challenges of our day.

Christianity was persecuted by the Roman Empire precisely because it was viewed as intolerant. Today, much of the faith has lost its teeth. The enablers for the murder of children are invited without sanction to take Holy Communion. Even high level shepherds hypothesize ways to get around or to turn a blind eye to homosexuality, adultery and fornication. We are urged to find a new language, removed from that used in Scripture, so that no one might get their feelings hurt. The fact that these activities might cost people the kingdom and their share in everlasting life does not seem to measure up anymore. Who are we to judge? We are the people given the gift of the Holy Spirit and who follow the Light of the World, dispelling the darkness. What is saving faith? It is courageous obedience to God, qualified by charity. That’s who we are and what we are about!

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