Choose a topic from Part 3a:

22. The Priesthood of Christ

1. It is fitting that Christ be a priest. The office of apriest is to bestow sacred things on the people; to offer theprayers of the people to God; to make, in some manner, satisfactionfor the people's sins. Our Lord exercised this priestly office;hence, he was and is a priest. And fittingly so; the priestlyministry belongs essentially to what Christ came to do. In St. Paul(Heb. 4:14) we read: "Having therefore a great high priest . .. Jesus, the Son of God."

2. Christ was not only a priest in offering sacrifice; hewas the victim offered in the sacrifice. He offered himself byfreely accepting suffering and death to gain us remission of sins,preservation in grace, and union with God. Says St. Paul (Eph.5:2): "Christ hath loved us, and hath delivered himself forus, an oblation and sacrifice to God for an odor ofsweetness."

3. The priesthood of Christ has power to expiate our sins.St. Paul says (Heb. 9:14): "The blood of Christ, who by theHoly Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, shall cleanse ourconscience from dead works to serve the living God." Thepriesthood of Christ produces the two effects needed to expiatesins: (a) it gives the sinner grace to turn to God; (b) it pays thedebt of punishment due to sin.

4. The expiatory sacrifice of Christ the Priest is forothers and not for himself, for he who has no sin needs noexpiation. Hence, our Lord himself does not experience the effectof his priesthood.

5. The end of our Lord's priestly sacrifice is theeverlasting good of those for whom the sacrifice is offered. It isthe eternal bliss of the beatific vision gained for rationalcreatures. And thus the sacrifice is eternal, and the priesthood ofChrist is eternal. Psalm 109:4 says: "Thou are a priestforever, according to the order of Melchisedech."

6. Christ's priesthood is described as "accordingto the order of Melchisedech." Melchisedech lived, and offeredhis sacrifice of bread and wine, before the Old Law wasestablished. The priesthood of the Old Law was a figure of thepriesthood of Christ, but it could not take away sins, nor was iteternal. The priesthood of Melchisedech suggests the preeminence ofthe priesthood of Christ over the priesthood of the Old Law.

"The one thing necessary which Jesus spoke of to Martha and Mary consists in hearing the word of God and living by it."
R. Garrigou-Lagrange, OP

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"God gives us some things, as the beginning of faith, even when we do not pray. Other things, such as perseverance, he has only provided for those who pray."
St Augustine

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"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

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