I had this below Bible passage sung at my First Mass, because I could relate to it as a new servant of Christ Jesus, “The Anointed One.” I was excited to be put into service by Holy Orders to more of Christ’ mission. I also had understood its application to the priesthood of the believer (the baptized) too, long before seminary time. It’s a great passage. It’s a great realization: He has anointed me.
Jesus proclaimed into fulfillment God’s coming as Priest, Prophet and King as One.
“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God;” – Isaiah 61:1-2a
In our theme for Advent 2014 at our parish, we are recalling how such passages of the Isaiah prophecies did come into reality and fulfillment in the Savior Jesus Christ, and how He has elected a body of believers to live out a three-fold mission as His faithful. We are asked to bring good news, to bind up broken hearts, proclaim freedom and release from sin’s slavery into the graced life of God’s own people. We are asked to be priest, prophet and king via Him.
As Luke’s gospel tells, Jesus read this particular Isaiah 61 Scripture aloud in His home synagogue, at the beginning of His ministry, and He declared to them: (that) “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And The Fulfiller has passed down to us a ministry with Him in being priest, prophet and king and called us into acting in such a way as His followers. The Church of the Third Millennium, living in 2014-2015 needs to continually fulfill her calling as the Body of Christ on Earth. Jesus wants to live His Priesthood, His Fulfilling Role as Prophet, and His Inaugurator (and Finisher) Servant of God’s Kingdom come among us, and to be brought to Heaven. He wants to do so through us, His chosen.
We have a ministerial priesthood and a priesthood of believers which needs to carry out what was prayed over each of us at our baptism: We have been commissioned. How so? After we were baptized, we were anointed with the Holy Chrism. (This is the same oil that is later used for the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders.) As we were anointed with this oil, the priest (or bishop or deacon) said a prayer like the following: :
[Clergyman]: “The God of power and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin and brought you to new life through water and the Holy Spirit. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation, so that, united with His people, you may remain for ever a member of Christ who is Priest, Prophet and King.”
Yes. We are anointed priest, prophet and king, as following in the footsteps of Christ. Jesus, Who was a priest in offering Himself up as a sacrifice for us all. He was a prophet in declaring the Kingdom of God. He was a king in His service to everyone in healing and in setting an example for us all of a life lived in holiness.
Most of us will not literally receive Holy Orders into a ministerial service to God and to in-front-of-the public roles in The Church. Many of us will not be called to a forward public ministry as a prophetic voice or a street corner prophet, getting in society’s face. Very few of us will be in a royal or special position of favor in society to move society as we think it should go. But that doesn’t matter. All of us are called into a priesthood of believers, as the baptized into Christ Jesus, where we shall be priest, prophet and king in the Lord’s own anointing for us to live in The Kingdom.
We can all be priests, prophets and kings in our own called way. We can live in this office of the believer in our everyday lives.
If we happen to be called into the specific office as Catholic priest, or to a prophetic leader’s role in social justice works, or in spreading forth the Church in missionary efforts—then so be it. Let those specific vocations come!
But all have the vocation of baptism and to be a Christian and to let God do something unique and good and holy through our lives.
So, getting started in this Advent Week One: Ask: How can I be a priest? Well, first, believe in what 1st Peter 3:29 says: “You are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare His virtues, who had called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
We have a parish prayer group and a youth band that likes singing that “chosen generation” verse. Amen!
That Bible verse describes who you are: there is a ministry for each all the baptized to be what this verse so says. Some call it lay ministry, but it could just be called “the Christian believers calling.”
When the parish asks for help or for lay ministry assistance, this is part of that calling of being “priest” (or “prophet” or “king”). There is a huge demand for lay people to step up to the plate and assist the parish staff in carrying out the parish mission. The clergy are few and staff (personnel) are limited, so it is the duty of the parishioners to be the busy ones and responsible ones to get the community life going.
The home life of the parishioners is important place to start. For families and marriages, The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#902) mentions that parents play a special role as ‘priests’ in passing on The Faith to their children. If one is single, then you might be the one that has the time for service or just to run some errands for the parish (like delivering food), or in teaching a catechism class, or in singing in the choir, or in going out to the community with an evangelism team. You can come and pray at Holy Hours or Masses for the good of the parish (prayer ministry is vital!).
Last year a Catholic author wrote on the subject. His name was Jean-Piere Torrell. His big book was called: “Priestly People, A Baptismal Priesthood and Priestly Ministry.” It is sold by Paulist Press. It is a good read.
So was a book the year before called “Forming Intentional Disciples” by Sherry Weddell.