Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Gift of Priesthood

In the Old Testament, God established His priesthood in order to lead the people in their worship and offerings to God. It was the responsibility of the priests to know the particular service and accompanying prayer to bless the life cycle of the people of God. God even established a special area in His House which was reserved for the priests to carry out their religious functions. In response, God would bless His priests by allowing for their support by the Temple.

In today’s reading from Hebrews, Saint Paul reminds us of God’s original purpose of His Priesthood. “BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.” (Hebrews 9.1-7)

The Temple Priests of the Old Testament were a foreshadowing of Christ Himself. What they worked to accomplish in the Temple symbolically, Christ accomplished in Himself. Since Christ has come and accomplished everything He intended, the Priesthood changed. We priests no longer are limited to offering sacrifices to God, although we still are blessed to serve as Priests of God who have been appointed to lead the people to God. The Old Testament Priesthood was a foreshadowing of the current priesthood, because when we celebrate the mysteries of the Church, we offer the precious Body and Blood of Christ in truth, not symbol.

Speaking as a priest, I am incredibly blessed each day not only to offer prayers on behalf of the people of God, but to be allowed to share in the blessings and struggles of His people. The life of a priest includes happy moments and stressful moments shared in the life of our parishioners. One element of the Old Testament Priesthood has not changed. We are still blessed by God when He allows us this privilege. Celebrating the many services of Great Lent, sometimes alone in the Church on behalf of many who are busy at work, is a constant reminder that God has blessed me to be a priest. Thank you.

No comments: