BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (65) – All baptized faithful are priests, prophets and kings: what does that mean?

[相片來源] JMO Mandia

– Rev José Mario O. Mandía

When we are baptized, we become members of Christ’s Mystical Body. At that moment, Christ who is Priest, Prophet, and King, makes us share in his three-fold office (in Latin, triplex munus or tria munera). The entire Church – Body of Christ and People of God – is thus a priestly, prophetic and kingly people (cf CCC 783; John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 18-21).

The CCCC, no 155, asks: “In what way does the people of God share in the three functions of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King?”

It replies as follows (I render the salient points in bold): “The people of God participate in Christ’s priestly office insofar as the baptized are consecrated by the Holy Spirit to offer spiritual sacrifices.

“They share in Christ’s prophetic office when with a supernatural sense of faith they adhere unfailingly to that faith and deepen their understanding and witness to it.

“The people of God share in his kingly office by means of service, imitating Jesus Christ who as King of the universe made himself the servant of all, especially the poor and the suffering.”

PRIESTS

“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Hebrews 5:1). All the baptized are enjoined to offer themselves and their whole life – joys and sorrows, successes and failures, challenges and disappointments, achievements and trials, work and rest, friendships and social relations, family life – on the altar, together with the body and blood of Christ. In this way, God can turn the “work of human hands” (Preparation of the Gifts, Ordinary of the Mass), each one’s “five loaves and two fishes” (cf Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14), into infinite blessings for any soul on earth or in purgatory who needs it.

PROPHETS

A prophet is God’s spokesperson. His teaching is not his own (cf John 7:16). So first he needs to listen to God. How? By frequently, regularly and  systematically reading and  meditating on the Sacred Scripture (God’s word).

The CCCC says he must adhere to what he has heard, deepen his understanding of it (especially with the help of Sacred Tradition and the teachings of the Church Magisterium), and put it into practice. “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses,” taught Pope Paul VI in  Evangelii Nuntiandi, no 41.

KINGS AND SHEPHERDS

As mentioned above, the duty of the king and shepherd is not “to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a random for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; cf John 13:1-17).

We can say further that a king has to govern. What does he govern? First, himself, through self-control and self-denial. He cannot govern others if he cannot govern himself. He also has to govern the world, “to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15), not to abuse it. Many times, too, he will be called to govern others, always with a view to serve them and not to subjugate, terrorize or exploit them.

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