As God blesses us with the privilege to attend and participate in Mass each week
(or daily Mass for some folks), and gives us the Eucharist through His priests, may we
notice some powerful priesthood-related Scripture passages this Sunday. Saint Mark
(6:7-13) recalls the fact that Jesus chose twelve men to be His Apostles, His first priests
and bishops, and that He gave them His authority as He sent them out two by two to
minister to His people. Saint Paul reminds us that God calls not only priests, but all
of us to be holy, to praise His glory forever (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Surely, all baptized persons can hear and heed Saint Paul’s words to the Christians
at Ephesus: He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before Him. Through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion (the Eucharist), all the Christian faithful belong to a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people (1 Peter 2:9). By sharing in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the faithful can actively participate in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as Jesus offers the Mass through His priests and re-presents His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension at every Mass. Then, strengthened by Jesus in His gift of the Eucharist, the faithful go out into the world to sanctify the world through their secular tasks, sharing in the one mission of the Church by means of the different vocations they have received from God (Holy Orders, Holy Matrimony, or the consecrated religious and single life), inviting others to encounter Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead in a life-affirming and life-changing way.
From the common priesthood of the people of God, our Lord calls some men through
His Church to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the ministerial priesthood (God blessed the
Diocese of Madison with three new priests this year!). This ordained priesthood builds
upon the common priesthood of the people, as the ordained are essentially different, set
apart (In Conversation with God, Fr. Francis Fernandez). By means of the consecration
he receives in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest becomes an instrument of
Jesus Christ in order to bring the grace of Redemption to all mankind. By virtue of
the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest is to act directly in the person of Christ (in
persona Christi) at all times, especially at Mass. In other words, when a priest baptizes,
confirms, offers the Mass, hears confession, anoints the sick, blesses marriages, it is
Jesus Christ Himself who is actually doing so, through the priest (just as Christ Himself
ordains men to the priesthood through the bishop). The Church, therefore, needs holy
priests, men who are willing to give themselves completely to Jesus and His Church.
As we pray for vocations to the Sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony, may
we pray for priests to serve Jesus and His Church well, that they would be holy, happy
and hard-working priests.
With peace and prayers in Christ,