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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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Message for Tuesday of Holy Week 2020


April 7, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Responsorial: Psalm 71:1-2,3-4,5-6,15 & 17
Gospel: John 13:21-33,36-38


Today’s Gospel reading is John 13:21-33, 36-38. The scene is the Last Supper. Reclining at table, we are told that Jesus is “deeply troubled.” This would seem understandable as Jesus knows the religious leaders are plotting his death and he has prophesied about what is coming. But is this the only reason he is troubled. What he next says probably indicates the true source for his emotional discomfort. He says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Remember, this is Jesus— he always puts others before himself. We see this in the garden when he tells the guards to leave his apostles alone, that he is the one they want. It is the coming betrayal that immediately distresses him. While the assembly will question, he knows full well who it is. He quietly points out the betrayer by taking a morsel of the bread, dipping it and handing it to Judas. Is the bread consecrated? Is this Holy Communion through intinction? Our Lord tells his friends, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me” (John 13:20). Christ is generous with his saving gifts and yet we must be disposed to his presence. The Church tells us that while the Eucharist can bring a share in the mercy and life of Christ, if a person is ill-disposed then it can convict us before God. No matter if it is the sacrament or not, the Lord is still extending himself to Judas and his response is betrayal.

Simon Peter nods to “the beloved disciple” who is generally known to be John and he leans against the chest or heart of Jesus, asking the identity of the betrayer. Note that it is Peter who really wants to know or maybe who has to know. He is well aware of his own weakness. Such will be realized when in fear he will deny Christ three times. The posture of John is one who shares the Lord’s sorrow. He will be the one apostle to follow Jesus to the hill of Calvary. While Judas will flee the scene, John is drawn to Christ in love. This scene may be more poignant than many realize. It has been theorized that John was not originally the “beloved disciple.” Our Lord is particularly drawn to the weak, the poor, the suffering, the afflicted, and to sinners. Who among them is the most broken and vulnerable? We are told in yesterday’s reading about the supper in Bethany that Judas is a thief. This truth would be fully realized when he would trade the Savior’s life for the price of silver. Why is Jesus troubled? Could it be that Judas is among the most loved of his apostles? He knows he is dishonest and wants to force his hand. We are not privy to all their conversations and all the times of bonding and fellowship. Judas is one of the twelve. How difficult it must have been to allow Satan to enter him when he has delivered so many others. While the providence of God is what it is, Judas makes his choices and closes himself to the intervention of our Lord. He could have repented as Peter would; instead he is on the course to despair and death. Our Lord weeps in the garden but I suspect the weeping begins here. He loves Judas but Judas does not love him enough in return.

Our Lord leaves little in the way of hope for Judas saying that it would have been better had he never been born. The providence of God has never been so mysterious. And yet, with his prophecy of the passion and death, there is a glimmer of hope for Peter who would deny him three times. Jesus says, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.”

The tragedy of sin would have us all play the part of traitor. But let us be like Peter and not Judas. Peter is swayed by fear but love would bring him back to Jesus and merit for him a share in eternal life. During this coronavirus we are also tempted by fear. Maybe it has caused us to be selfish or angry or afraid? Like Peter, we can come back to the Lord and affirm the one who has conquered sin and the grave. Stay safe. Keep the faith.

Message for Monday of Holy Week 2020


April 6, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-7
Responsorial: Psalm 27:1,2,3,13-14
Gospel: John 12:1-11


Today’s Gospel is John 12:1-11. The setting is six days before the Passover. It is the calm before the storm. A dinner is held in Bethany, no doubt to thank the Lord for raising Lazarus from the dead. Reclining with him at table is Lazarus while his sister Martha serves the meal and his sister Mary anoints his feet and dries them with her hair. A crowd gathers to see both Jesus and Lazarus. Many are coming to believe in Jesus because of the miracle he has worked. Meanwhile, the chief priests are out to get Jesus and to kill Lazarus, too. Lazarus is a walking-talking billboard that Jesus has such divine power.

Given the insincere question of Judas, the weight of interpretation for this reading is usually placed upon the costly value of the aromatic nard: “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” A literary aside already tells the reader that Judas will betray Jesus and that as the holder of their common purse, he was a thief. Jesus immediately comes to Mary’s defense: “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Between the lines Jesus is measuring out the value of her humility and sacrifice against Judas’ pride and selfish desires feigning charity.

I would prefer to emphasize the status of the women. Theirs is an utter humility, harkening to when our Lord at table would wash the feet of his apostles as a sign of their service. Lazarus and his temporary restoration to life would point to Christ’s resurrection where he would never suffer or die again. But, notice that Lazarus is most often peripheral to the witness of these women. Previously Mary takes the posture of a disciple sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his words. Then too Martha is engaged in the things of hospitality. When she complains, Jesus says that she worries about too much and that Mary has chosen the better portion and would not be deprived of it. Here we find the women similarly engaged, although Mary has moved from listening to honoring or even worshipping Christ. Indeed, the word “Christ” means the anointed one. Kings are anointed, as are those who have died. The oil she uses to anoint Jesus may have been taken from the same source that had previously anointed the body of Lazarus.

Recall the role of the two sisters when Lazarus dies. Martha runs out to Jesus and literally makes an intercessory prayer for her dead brother. Jesus is affirmed as the Messiah and Lord. Mary will also meet him at the tomb. The power of faith is realized when Jesus calls for Lazarus to arise from the tomb and a man four day dead emerges.

The details here are important. After Mary anoints the feet of Jesus, she dries them with her hair and “the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” There is a lesson in this. His fragrance is now hers. If we honor the Lord then he will honor us. This is a message crucial for us, especially when we are separated from the Mass and our churches. The family is the “little church” and we are called to invite the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary into our homes. Allow Christ and the fragrance of holiness to imbue us and our families. Honor God and take to heart the witness of Lazarus’ sisters to know, to serve and to adore or love the Lord. Stay safe. Keep the faith.

Mass for Palm Sunday 2020

Mass for Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Readings & Message for Thursday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Mass for Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Father Joe’s Mass & Message for March 31, 2020

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