Sacrament of priesthood
1. Priesthood is an institution as old as humanity itself. A relationship with God is an innate attitude of man. That relationship needs to be expressed both in private and in public. Public expression is mediated by other humans who were designated for it. Such priests functioned in every culture (head of the families, kings) and ordained ministers (Aaron). Jesus was not like those Priests who offered various sacrifices for others, but one who offered himself for others. This he did only once, on the cross, and thus became the 'Eternal High Priest'.
2. The most important offices of a Christian priest are
a. To offer sacrifices and
b. To forgive the sins of others
He shared both these offices Jesus shared with his disciples (1) During the last supper after sharing his body and blood with them.(2) In a post-resurrection scene (Jn 20/23), after conferringthe Holy Spirit on the disciple, Jesus communicated to them the power to forgive sins. Thus, Jesus shared with his disciples his priesthood for offering sacrifices and forgiving sins in the Church. Christian Priesthood's most appealing and meaningful aspect shines when the Priest acts as the mediator between people and God himself, as Moses was between God and the People of Israel. Jesus is the supreme example of this for the priest. He was full time for the people, with the people, and so to say,full time with God. This aspect is a constitutive element of the Christian priesthood.
3. Such a Mission is not an acquired or inherited office but a given mission, a vocation. “It is not you who have chosen me, but I have chosen you”. This awareness of being called made Paul, priest and missionary par excellence, introduce himself to the members of his churches as an “Apostle” (Ref Introductions to many of Paul’s letters)
4. The greatest glory of a priest would be that he becomes one who makes the grace of God flow into the people of God for which he becomes the channel. The world has much Goodness in it. "World as a sacrament", simultaneously, just as in Paradise, along with all the goodness in it, the power that draws man away from God is actively working in the world today. The priest is, no doubt, placed in the tension between good and evil. Technology and Information explosion at times make man overwhelmed. The Golden calf of allurements of power, wealth and pleasure makes man dance around and in them, but the priest is called to supercar the evil both within himself and in the world, for which the means are the same as those that the Lord used. Intense communion with the Lord and through the Lord to the Father, the power of the Word of God (Jesus said the man lives not by bread alone but by the Word that comes out of the mouth of the Lord). A false impression is taking the round in today’s world; a Priest is no longerneeded today. But priests who can fill the vacuum in the hearts of millions by the divine touch are still very much in need today, or maybe he is the need of the time today.
(Prepared by Fr. Varghese Anjanithadathil)