So there we have it!!
If you are familiar with The Bible in a Year, where were the priests?
In the very very beginning we have Cain and Abel in Genesis
What are they doing?
They are offering sacrifices
Cain offers a sacrifice
Abel offers a sacrifice
Cain’s sacrifice is not accepted
Abel’s sacrifice is accepted
The people themselves are offering sacrifice
They don’t have a priesthood
Really quickly we see Abram coming back from the defeat of the kings
He meets Melchizedek
He is the King of Salem and a priest of God, Most High
Melchizedek is on Mount Moriah and offers a sacrifice of bread and wine
Abram gives him a tenth of everything
Melchizedek blesses Abram
Melchizedek is also mentioned in the Book of Psalms
Melchizedek is also mentioned in the Letter to the Hebrews
He is a unique kind of priest
His priesthood id eternal in some ways
It’s not necessarily rooted in the genealogy like the Jewish priesthood is rooted in genealogy
Originally, the fathers of each family would be like the priest of the family
At the Passover, the father of the family would be the one who offered the sacrifice of the lamb
What happens after the Passover?
The Jewish people are released from slavery in Egypt
They go through the Red Sea
God saves them again and again
They get to Mount Sinai and Moses goes up to receive the Ten Commandments from the Lord Himself
He comes down from the mountain and the people are worshiping the golden calf in false worship
Because of this and because ONLY the Tribe of Levi fought against the people doing false worship, then it was that priests would ONLY come from the Tribe of Levi
So it was rooted in genealogy
That one family of Levi where the priests would now come from
Even if you were of a different tribe and you really really wanted to be a priest, it did not matter because you were not a member of the Tribe of Levi
That became the new distinction
The father being the priest of the family got lost once the golden calf worship happened
Now it is the Levitical priesthood and it only comes from the Tribe of Levi
Both these things are important to understand
What happens in the New Covenant?
In the New Covenant, priests are once again established as the fathers
That’s one of the reasons we call them “Father” and one of the reasons why ONLY MEN CAN BE PRIESTS
More to come on that
The priesthood is rooted in fatherhood
Because of sin, priesthood is not just rooted in father hood
Priesthood is rooted in the Levitical priesthood
What were the priests appointed to do?
They were appointed to act on behalf of men, in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, which could never be enough
Paragraph 1540 says, “Instituted to proclaim the Word of God and to restore communion with God by sacrifice and prayer, this priesthood nevertheless remains powerless to bring about salvation, needing to repeat its sacrifices ceaselessly and being unable to achieve a definitive sanctification, which only the sacrifice of Christ would accomplish.”
There is a connection between the New Covenant priesthood and the Old Covenant priesthood with the priesthood of Jesus Christ
This is all connected
The Levitical priesthood was consecrated for a dedicated purpose
Paragraph 1539 says, “The priests are ‘appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.’”
There is also this priesthood of Melchizedek
Jesus is, in some ways, the fulfillment of the fatherhood of the priesthood
He is the fulfillment of the Levitical priesthood
He is the fulfillment of the priesthood of Melchizedek
The Letter to the Hebrews says, “He is a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. He is holy, blameless, unstained. And by a single offering, he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
That single offering is His unique sacrifice on the Cross
Jesus fulfills ALL OF THESE PREFIGUREMENTS of the Old Covenant
Priesthood of Melchizedek
JESUS FULFILLS ALL OF IT!!
Jesus is the ONE PRIEST
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s summer camp tale…
How many priests are there in the world?
Paragraph 1545 says, “The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ’s priesthood: ‘Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.’”
Every time we celebrate the Mass, we are not re-sacrificing Jesus
We are merely re-presenting that one sacrifice once for all
In the same way, there is ONE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST
THERE IS ONE PRIEST!!
That priesthood of Jesus is made present though the ministerial priesthood
Every priest you meet, that is not another priest
That is someone who is participating in and making present the ONE PRIESTHOOD OF JESUS CHRIST
It does not diminish the UNIQUENESS of Christ’s priesthood
St. Thomas Aquinas says in Paragraph 1545, “‘Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.’”
So if someone asks you how many priests are there in the Catholic Church, what do you say?
If someone asks you how many priests there are in the world, what do you say?
JESUS IS THE ONE GREAT HIGH PRIEST!!
There are many ministerial priests, the ones who participate in Christ’s priesthood
There are many kingdom priests, everyone who is baptized is called to participate in Christ’s priesthood in a very unique way as well
Not everyone gets to participate in Holy Orders
Not everyone gets to participate in Holy Matrimony
All of us who have been baptized are participating in the priesthood of Jesus
YOU get to participate in the priesthood of Jesus in a unique way
The kingdom of priests
A holy nation
A royal people
People set apart for the Lord God
If you are a priest or bishop listening to this, you get to participate in this priesthood of Jesus in a unique way as well
The more and more we exercise either our kingdom priesthood or ministerial priesthood of Jesus, the more and more we get to make present the great high priesthood of Jesus
The more we say YES to Christ in this way, the more He is made present and the more He made known
When we skip Mass, we don’t get the chance to exercise that priesthood
When we show up, we exercise that priesthood, and God is that much more glorified
The world is that much more sanctified
When we are willing, as kingdom priests, to offer the pains of our day, to offer the joys of our day, to offer our loves and our losses, to offer our tears, to offer our suffering with the Lord, then we get to exercise that priesthood in union with the one unique priesthood of Jesus Christ
This is not just a thing for the past
This is a thing that is COMPLETELY PRESENT
Right now, in this moment, you are a living embodiment, in some ways, of the priesthood of Jesus because of your Baptism
If you are listening to this as a bishop, priest, or deacon, you are, in a unique way, the living extension of the unique priesthood of Jesus
IN THIS MOMENT!!
We can pray in this moment, “Ok, God. Use this moment. Let this moment be a moment of sacrifice. Let this moment be a moment of worship. Let this moment be a moment where you are glorified and the world is sanctified because we get to participate in the one, unique priesthood of Jesus.”
Hope that makes sense!!
IT IS AMAZING!!
IT IS INCREDIBLE!!
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!