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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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Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday

Friday of Easter Week: Readings & Message


USCCB Audio of Today’s Readings

The Pastor’s Daily Message

April 17, 2020

First Reading:  Acts 4:1-12
Responsorial:  Psalm 118:1-2 & 4,22-24,25-27
Second Reading:  John 21:1-14

You may have noticed how often the resurrection appearances are linked with meals. I have already mentioned the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus who recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. Jesus also took and ate a fish to demonstrate that he had actually risen from the dead.

In John 21:1-14, he directs his disciples to throw their net into the sea and there is a miraculous catch. When some of it is cooked, he “came over, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.”

The Eucharistic themes are unavoidable. He makes himself present to us when we gather in his name and eat the bread of life. The symbol of the fish, because of its recurrent use, has also become a signature of sorts for the presence of the risen Lord. Indeed, in the midst of persecution, Christians would often draw a fish upon the ground as a secret sign that it was safe to speak, that they were all among friends.

It is no accident that the Lord uses the occasion of the meal to repeatedly reveal himself to his friends. It is an ancient maxim that to share food is to share life. What better sign could there be then for the resurrection to be seen for what it is, real and glorious? The disciples recall all the past times when they would gather with their master and share nourishment. We can imagine that these were occasions of great intimacy and bonding. When the Christian community is exiled from the synagogues, and we can see such friction as this in Acts 4:1-12, the meal they celebrate in common upon the following day increases in importance. Christianity takes root and grows from the seed of Judaism. Those who thought the issue of Jesus would be resolved by his death find that his disciples continue to work in his name, gathering new adherents and working miracles.

In the early days of the Church, the agape or love feast celebrated by Christians included a regular banquet where they recalled the stories of Jesus and commemorated the Lord’s Last Supper with his friends — the Eucharist. As time passed, and the first meal became unwieldy, it was dropped and the celebration of the sacrament became the principal meal that Christians celebrated as a family. It is still in this spiritual food that the risen Jesus is made present in our midst. He gives it to us and it is Jesus, himself. Just as we need food for physical nourishment; so too do we need the Eucharist to nurture us and to keep us spiritually alive in faith.

I pray that our good people who are usually faithful to the weekly Mass are not spiritually starving. Just because you are currently exempt of the juridical obligation to attend does not mean that you are released from your moral and faith obligation to worship God and to benefit from his graces. That is why the spiritual communion is important, even if is somewhat difficult because of its intangibility. As true believers in the incarnation, Christ entering his creation, we as Catholics trust and rely on the sacraments— how material things, words and gestures can convey the presence and saving activity of the Lord. Because of this— it is a very trying time for us. Again, watch the Mass when it is offered online or on television. Listen to the daily messages from your pastor. Stay connected, both to the faith and to your parish. Stay safe. Keep the faith.

Supplication Prayer

Lord, we beseech you to guide medical researchers to find a cure and treatments for the coronavirus. Give strength and compassion to those who are placing their own lives on the line to care for the sick and to save lives. Give acceptance and grace to your ministers and faithful that we will witness to you during this crisis. Console the grieving and give a share in eternal life to those called from this world. Amen.

USCCB Mass Readings

Thursday of Easter Week: Readings & Message


April 16, 2020

First Reading:  Acts 3:11-26
Responsorial:  Psalm 8:2 & 5,6-7,8-9
Second Reading:  Luke 24:35-48

After hearing the testimony of how the risen Jesus made himself known in the breaking of the bread to the two men on the road to Emmaus, he appears to his apostles. When his friends doubt it is him, or fear that it might be a ghost, he tells them to look, to see, and to touch. He shows them his wounds and says, “. . . a ghost does not have flesh and bones as I do.” Then he accepts and eats a piece of fish with them. St. Luke is adamant in having us understand that Jesus is really in this scene and not a mere ghostly apparition or simply an internal feeling that he is present, as we sometimes sense at prayer. He is much more.

It is this stress upon his risen bodily presence which, I believe, offers us much consolation. The human person is not a disembodied spirit; nor is it angelic. We are created with both bodies and souls and together they constitute who and what we are. That is why the Church is so insistent that on the final Judgment Day, we will be restored body and soul. Although this mystery goes beyond the comprehension of our feeble minds, we see hints as to how it might be in Christ. Notice that he is both the same and different; at first they do not recognize him. This is no wonder. Could any of us recognize a human countenance where all the wrinkles of age, the scars of disease, the marks of pain, and where all tears have been wiped away? Think what such a person might look like. However, after a while, especially in the breaking of the bread and here with the eating of a piece of baked fish, they come to see him for who he really is. Indeed, he still carries the marks of the crucifixion which are his badges of honor in his victorious fight against sin and death.

Looking at today’s epistle from Acts, the curing of the lame man signifies how the power of Jesus realized in his paschal mystery can touch each and every one of us who believe in him. As a sign of this belief, we need to respect our bodies as his temples and extensions in the world. Our bodies are who we are and therefore we need to take care of them. We are our bodies! This message emerges in our celebration of both Christmas and Easter where our humanity is elevated and then restored. This message touches all the doctrines and feasts of the Church. Yes, it embraces moral theology, too. After all, in the various arguments about abortion, euthanasia, artificial contraception, etc. we are speaking not so much about the body as a shell or robot which we can manipulate as we wish; but rather, we are talking about our very selves and our personhood. People who see the issues of the Church disjointed do not realize that to allow selfishness to rewrite our moral principles would ultimately destroy the meaning of the coming of Christ into our world and his resurrection.

Supplication Prayer

Lord, we beseech you to guide medical researchers to find a cure and treatments for the coronavirus. Give strength and compassion to those who are placing their own lives on the line to care for the sick and to save lives. Give acceptance and grace to your ministers and faithful that we will witness to you during this crisis. Console the grieving and give a share in eternal life to those called from this world. Amen.

USCCB Mass Readings

Wednesday of Easter Week: Readings & Message


April 15, 2020

First Reading:  Acts 3:1-10
Responsorial:  Psalm 105:1-2,3-4,6-7,8-9
Second Reading:  Luke 24:13-35

The story of Jesus appearing to two men on the road to Emmaus is one of the most famous of our resurrection accounts. The last phrase, “. . . they had come to know him in the breaking of the bread,” speaks to us about how we encounter the risen Lord in our Eucharist. The Eucharist is Christ’s living legacy to us. No matter what age it might be, he does not abandon us. After his ascension, the Lord continues to abide in his early disciples as well. He sends them his Spirit and works his ministry through them.

To protect myself, no Scripture scholar of whom I am aware would say that the story of the appearance of Christ to the two men on the road to Emmaus is a strict catechesis of the Mass. However, if we look at it closely, we might get a better understanding of the movement of the liturgy. Taking a mild liberty, we see the following elements:

1. They are PROCESSING to their destination. We are reminded of the Entrance Rite. Just as it symbolizes in the priest Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to die; the congregation is understood as a pilgrim people summoned to the risen Lord.

2. Jesus comes and explains the SCRIPTURES to them. This parallels the Liturgy of the Word where we encounter our Lord through the proclamation.

3. Then they come to the place where they are headed, and Jesus is moving on. The men ask Jesus to stay with them. Sharing a meal, we find the code word for the Eucharist, “THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD.” Notice the words he uses:

. . . he TOOK BREAD and GAVE THANKS (Eucharist),
he BROKE IT, and
GAVE IT TO THEM (Communion).

They recognize him in the breaking of the bread. What do they do afterwards? We read in St. Paul a few days back that we must also discern the presence and saving activity of Christ in the bread of life and the chalice of salvation. Otherwise, the sacrament that makes possible justification and mercy can bring judgment upon us instead.

Finally, the men go out upon their MISSION to spread the Word. They return to Jerusalem to announce before the apostles that Jesus is truly risen (Dismissal).

Can you see the broad outline to what we call the Mass today? We are all processing to our final destiny. We proclaim the Scriptures in the Liturgy of the Word. We participate in the breaking of the bread and then go about our mission as disciples. A priest friend of mine has joked that the only similarity between the people of the Gospel and the people of the Church today is that “they got up immediately and left.” Many now lament our separation from our churches because of the coronavirus and yet when we were free to participate at the altar, how many of our Catholics would come late and leave early. It is unfortunate. The final words of the Mass send us upon a mission; it is not simply “the end” or a dismissal. Go tell the Good News! Go tell what you have learned! Give what you have received!

There is a reciprocal action going on here. In the bible passage cited, Jesus explains the Scriptures (likened to a HOMILY) to the travelers on the road and in turn they recognize him in the breaking of the bread. “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he explained the Scriptures?” So too must our hearts burn with yearning. This is all by way of introducing the Mass so that you will not simply look upon it as a lot of individual parts. There is a whole here. The Scriptures prepare us for the Eucharist. In return, the Eucharist helps us to see Christ in the Scriptures and to better know his message for us. Before the bread and wine is transformed into Christ, the Scriptures are to configure us in such a way that we might be fitting vessels for the bread of life. It is my hope that as tragic as our current separation from the sacrament is, that God’s Word will give us a greater yearning and passion for the Eucharist when it is restored to the laity. But now we must be satisfied with Scripture and spiritual communion.

We see one incident of this transformation and mission in Acts. Peter and John are going up to the temple to pray. Outside the edifice, at the temple gate, is a beggar who for years has been at the practice of begging from those who come to worship. It is interesting that he is outside the temple because as a cripple he is also outside the hearts and lives of many of his own people. He is tolerated, but looked down upon. He must beg for his sustenance. He is a man whose dignity has been tarnished by a situation beyond his control. Peter is poor in worldly riches; but, he has already begun to save up for himself, treasure from heaven. He possesses Christ and he gives Christ. The apostles who were weak and confused are now much changed. In the name of Jesus, he heals the crippled man and orders him to walk. In that single incident, the poor man’s dignity is restored. He would no longer be a castoff from society. He is whole again. This is the meaning of Easter. We may be weighed down by our sins, be of ill health, be lonely, or sad; and yet, Jesus offers us healing and forgiveness. We had cut ourselves off from God and from the family of faith by our rebellion; now we can be reconciled and be aliens no longer. Our shame from the rebellion in the Garden of Eden is no longer imputed against us and our hearts can be turned around — making Christ our greatest treasure — living only to serve and love God.

Notice what the first act of the lame man is once he is healed. No longer merely at the gate of the temple, he walks inside the temple with them. Through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ, the gates of our heavenly Jerusalem are now open to us. May we be filled with the same joy as this healed lame man, entering heaven by “walking, jumping about, and praising” the Lord God.”

Supplication Prayer

Lord, we beseech you to guide medical researchers to find a cure and treatments for the coronavirus. Give strength and compassion to those who are placing their own lives on the line to care for the sick and to save lives. Give acceptance and grace to your ministers and faithful that we will witness to you during this crisis. Console the grieving and give a share in eternal life to those called from this world. Amen.

USCCB Mass Readings

Tuesday of Easter Week: Readings & Message


April 14, 2020

First Reading:  Acts 2:36-41
Responsorial:  Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20 & 22
Second Reading:  John 20:11-18

The Lord appears to Mary Magdalene, consoles her, and sends her off with the news, “I have seen the Lord!” The insistence upon the witness of women in the Scriptures reveals to us just how much both men and women were called to be Christ’s disciples. Mary Magdalene proclaims the Good News to Jesus’ other followers, the men with whom he had entrusted his apostolic authority and power. Notice his words to her. She is so thrilled to see him that he must immediately tell her not to cling to him. He exclaims that he is “ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God!” This is one of the clearest statements by Christ that his particular Easter event will also be ours. The words also echo the time when he taught his friends to call God, “Our Father,” in the Lord’s Prayer. We, who belong to Christ, belong also to the one who sent and raised him up. We who are now identified with Christ can appropriately call God our adopted Father. He keeps us in existence and in baptism refashions us into the likeness of his Son.

Likewise, the disciples in Acts take this message and make it the cornerstone of their ministry. We have put Christ to death by our sins; however, we can repent and be baptized into Christ Jesus. Peter said, “It was to you and your children that the promise was made, and to all those still far off whom the Lord our God calls.” I would love to etch those words near the main doors of the church. The message of Christ was not simply for the Jewish people, nor was it for the Gentiles alone who lived two-thousand years ago. His has been a message for every age. We are many miles and many years separated from the period when Jesus walked the earth; however, no matter how far off we have been from him, his message is just as important and alive today as it was yesterday. We are still called to repent and believe. No political order, no philosophy, no educational program, no, none of these have been able to make man one iota better than he was in ancient Palestine. “Save yourselves from this generation which has gone astray.” Yesterday and today our hope remains in Christ and in his forgiveness. Just as our sins in this age contributed to his crucifixion; so too does his grace and forgiveness contribute to our redemption.

Supplication Prayer

Lord, we beseech you to guide medical researchers to find a cure and treatments for the coronavirus. Give strength and compassion to those who are placing their own lives on the line to care for the sick and to save lives. Give acceptance and grace to your ministers and faithful that we will witness to you during this crisis. Console the grieving and give a share in eternal life to those called from this world. Amen.

Monday of Easter Week: Readings & Message


April 13, 2020

First Reading:  Acts 2:14,22-33
Responsorial:  Psalm 16:1-2 & 5,7-8,9-10,11
Second Reading:  Matthew 28:8-15

Two of the verses in today’s Gospel are the same as read at the Easter Vigil. The women have been directed by an angel to tell the disciples that Jesus has risen as he said. On their way they encounter Christ who tells them not to be afraid and then echoes the angel is sending them off to the disciples, whom he calls his brothers. The guards were terrified at the earthquake and the appearance of an angel. However, they run, not to the disciples but to the chief priests— the very ones who had plotted against the life of Christ. Just as with Judas and the crowd, their answer is again to offer a large sum of money to pay people off. Just as they denied the goodness and presence of God in Christ’s good works and miracles, here too they show their opposition to the truth. Their rejection of Christ and the accompanying guilt is ratified. The guards are bribed to lie. They are told to say, “His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.”

We as believers are to share the great truth that Jesus rose from the dead and redeemed for himself a people. How do we testify to this truth? Do we seek to proclaim the Gospel by our words and charity? Have we been faithful to the religious formation of children, called to carry the banner of truth with us and after we leave this world? Often we think of evangelization and catechesis when pondering how to pass on the truth of Christ. I would suggest that just as important is the healing that comes through charity. It is this that makes any proclamation sound authentic or real. Sometimes it seems that we might be drowning in a sea of empty words. Too many say what they do not mean. Instead of healing and empowering— words and strategies are devised for manipulation. “How can we force more money out of people? How can we pacify them or make them follow blindly? How might we use them?” These questions expose not the light of truth but the darkness that deceives. This must not be the way with us. When we say “we are family” or that “we care” or that “we will be praying for you” or that “we love you,” it must be a conviction from the heart— it must be real— or it is from the evil one.

Our imitation of Jesus, if it is to be authentic, must be a ministry of love and healing. Believe in the power of prayer, not because we are especially holy, but because Christ is powerful. One who can raise himself from the dead can do anything!

Supplication Prayer

Lord, we beseech you to guide medical researchers to find a cure and treatments for the coronavirus. Give strength and compassion to those who are placing their own lives on the line to care for the sick and to save lives. Give acceptance and grace to your ministers and faithful that we will witness to you during this crisis. Console the grieving and give a share in eternal life to those called from this world. Amen.

Holy Saturday Easter Vigil

Veneration Service for Good Friday

Mass for Holy Thursday 2020

Message for Wednesday of Holy Week 2020


April 8, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9
Responsorial: Psalm 69:8-10,21-22,31 & 33-34
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-25


Today’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 26:14-25. The scene of the Passover Supper is broken by an aside where Judas appears before the chief priests. While the religious leaders have looked for a man such as him, the Scriptures have him initiating the encounter: “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” Given thirty pieces of silver, he begins to look for an opportunity to betray Christ.

Jesus tells his apostles during the meal that one of their numbers would betray him. While John’s Gospel speaks of Jesus’ distress, this passage from Matthew refers to the Twelve as “deeply distressed.” They know their weakness. They have a profound sense of their unworthiness and guilt. That is why they question, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” Jesus offers no answer but in an effort to ease their consciences, says that the one who dips into the dish with him is the betrayer. Singled out, Judas echoes what the others have already asked, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” The response is a literary form called a “half-affirmative.” Jesus answers, “You have said so.” The deception or lie of Judas collapses. Rather than an outright condemnation from Jesus, the admission of guilt is placed upon Judas’ own lips. The question itself consequently implies guilt. What he does, he does to himself. This is the last we hear about Judas at the meal. Absent is the dialogue in John’s Gospel where Jesus dismisses him. However, we can assume that Judas has left their company after this engagement. Notice that Judas is identified as the betrayer prior to the words of Eucharistic institution. The Gospel of Mark follows a similar chronology and we can presume the exit of Judas. It is unclear in John. Luke seems to make him present. Regardless, one in their small fraternity (priest or not) proves to be faithless and unlike Peter, will not repent and seek Christ’s merciful love.

What is sometimes regarded as a divine curse is really just an observation made by Christ. While providence may be hidden from us, such is not the case with God’s Son: “The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” The apostle John speaks of an evil spirit entering Judas, but the aside here shows premeditation. Judas has substituted for his Lord the spirit of the antichrist. St. Paul teaches that such people are seduced by the deception of the evil one. Jesus will tell Pilate that he has come to testify to the truth and as a stoic, the procurator will ask, “What is truth?” Those cast as Judas do not even ask such a question. One must love and receive the truth so as to be saved. The devil exudes a deceiving power so that we might embrace the lie. Did Judas lose faith in Christ? Did he seek to force his hand? Similarly today, there are many who say they are Christian but is there any real evidence to convict them as such? The faith is a gift given to us and the truth is what it is. However, too many renounce the truths of Scripture and Sacred Tradition, both about the identity of God and the dictates of the moral life. The light of Christ seeks to break through this veil that numbs consciences to the most basic truths about God and about right and wrong. Some are blind even to the basics of nature. There is unbridled greed, human trafficking, and oppression. Senseless violence culminates in crime, war and the destruction of children in the womb. We experience hatred of minorities and those who are different. Marriage and family is ridiculed while we normalize gender dysphoria, sexual disorientation, depravity, excess and infidelity. There is a spiritual blindness where a false caricature of Christ is worshipped in idolatry to the fads and fashion of men. Instead, we need to proclaim the truth not with rigidity but compassion. When Judas awakens to what he has done, he despairs. What happens to him is a wakeup call for you and me. We still have time to change our moral trajectory. Many are now sick and we know some who have died from the pandemic. We do not know the day or the hour that God will call us home. Do not waste this time. We can change. Walk with Christ. Stay safe. Keep the faith.