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Sunday Homily: You Are A Royal Priesthood
Fifth Sunday of Easter: Cycle A
By Fr. Jason Mitchell LC
ROME, May 16, 2014 (Zenit.org) -
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter 2:4-9
At the Last Supper Jesus reveals to his Apostles that he departs to prepare a place for them to dwell in. This dwelling-place, this temple, this house of God, is the Church. Jesus' disciples will live and abide within the Church, the Body of Christ.
In his Letter, Saint Peter speaks about this spiritual house that God has built. Jesus Christ is the "living stone" and cornerstone that God has established in Zion. Jesus was rejected by men, but has been raised up by God as the cornerstone of a new creation. We are called to believe in him and in so doing, we will not endure the shame of death, but be built into this spiritual house of God.
From the beginning, all creation was supposed to be a temple where God was worshiped and glorified and where men and women entered into communion with God. By their sin, however, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and lost the grace of holiness and justice. Creation needed a redeemer so that man could once again worship and glorify his creator and enter into communion with him. God later established a covenant with the people of Israel and provided a model for the tabernacle, where he would dwell with his people. Like the Adam and Eve, the people of Israel broke God's covenant and sinned. They worshiped the golden calf instead of the God of their fathers.
Centuries later, God established a covenant with David and promised that one of his descendants will build him a house: "I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father and he shall be my son" (2 Samuel 7:12-13). This promise to David is partially fulfilled through Solomon, David's son, who build the temple in Jerusalem, but is ultimately fulfilled through Jesus Christ, the Son of David. Jesus is the one who truly builds a house for God's name. Through Jesus, we can respond to God's original call to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation. This is what God wanted from the beginning.
Jesus, then, is the Way that leads to this communion with God. He is the Truth that reveals the Father. He is the Life, given to us on earth through faith and in the Eucharist. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation we are consecrated to be a holy priesthood: "The whole community of believers, as such, is priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ's mission as priest, prophet, and king" (CCC 1546). The common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace - a life of faith, hope, and charity - a life according to the Spirit.
Priests and bishops also share in the ministerial priesthood, which is at the service of the common priesthood of the faithful. The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ - the Head of the Church - before the assembly of the faithful, but also of acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church and when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice. Deacons, mentioned in today's first reading, do not receive the ministerial priesthood (CCC, 1596), but do receive the first degree of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. They are configured to Christ who made himself the deacon or servant of all. They assist the bishop and priest in the celebration of divine mysteries (the liturgy), in the proclamation of the Gospel, and in dedicating themselves to ministries of charity.
As we contemplate the great mystery of our call to be a royal priesthood, we realize that each one of us is called in different ways to build up the Body of Christ and extend the Kingdom of God. The seven deacons offer to us an example as they responded generously to God's call. They welcomed the Holy Spirit into their lives and worked tirelessly at the service of the community and of the Gospel.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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