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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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Despair of Salvation

I have already briefly mentioned Despair of Salvation within a reflection about the sin of Presumption.  Both sins are serious assaults against truth.  Just as we must acknowledge our dependence as creatures upon God; we should not question his power to save his children, even those most burdened by weakness and sin.  Jesus gives us a direct command against this sin. He tells us, “Be not afraid!”  If presumption signifies a misdirection of love then despair is a symptom of inadequate love.  There was a popular cliché from a few years ago that bears remembering, “God doesn’t make junk!”  We are broken or wounded as a consequence of sin but what God creates is good.  We have to see ourselves as God sees us. 

If God could send his only Son to suffer the indignity of the Cross out of love for us, then who are we to spurn his sacrifice as impotent to save us?  We are loved and prized by God.  The Lord would have us return this love and embrace the solidarity we have with Christ in carrying our crosses.  The truth uttered in every baptism that permeates the Christian life is that if we die with Christ then we will live with him.

The sin of despair often leaves people despondent and possibly even suicidal. While it often engages the emotions, it is deeper than feelings— it poisons the will.  Often it is brought on by past disobedience and unforgiven sin.  It hampers faith because a necessary pre-requisite is repentance.  Sorrow for sin is rooted in love of God and a desire to share the happiness of heaven.  Imperfect contrition becomes short-circuited if the person feels there is no way to escape the pains of hell and the loss of heaven.  The person hates himself.  It could also happen that others enable such a mentality.  When a person is belittled, the one who is targeted for the ridicule might become convinced that he is no good.  The sin of cursing or damning someone fuels such a sin. 

Note that in the ministry of Jesus he usually forgave sins, even when people came to him for physical healing.  Our posture as believers is to help bring God’s mercy to others.  As long as there is breath in our bodies and we are alive there remains HOPE.  However, if one should blaspheme the Holy Spirit and then depart this mortal world, then our state becomes fixed.  There is no hope for the denizens of hell.  All they have is despair and loss.  Coincidentally, there is no hope for the saints of heaven either; all their hopes have been realized with the beatific vision.  Indeed, even the souls of purgatory have the joyful certainty of their trajectory toward heaven after their final purification. 

Returning to the matter of the curse, we should also avoid any presumption that this or that particular person is in hell.  We pray for the poor souls and leave judgment to God.  It would be a terrible sin to hate someone so much that we damned him only to find that we brought judgment upon ourselves by condemning one of God’s saints.  The verdict is still out for each of us in this world but we should take confidence in the promises of Christ.  We are not an orphaned or abandoned people.  We are loved.  God has given us everything we need to be saved. We should keep faith in Christ and live in a manner that pleases God.  If we walk with the Lord then we have no cause for fear.