+JMJ+ Welcome to Day 6 in our Octave of Christian Unity series of posts. Keywords today are: People of God, laity and priests, and covenant. Another good way of thinking of our relationship to the Lord, and, from what I remember of listening to and reading Scott Hahn, a better translation of the phrase used in Scripture, would be “Family of God.” As always, any notes and links will be at the end of the post.
“Christians are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people set apart for Jesus Christ.”ICWG, vol. 6, p. 51
Even though “God calls each and every person by his or her name,” (Ibid., 51) and contrary to what many non-Catholics seem to think, He “does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges him in truth and serves him in holiness.” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 9.)
The Lord made a covenant with His people. Many people think of covenant as just another word for contract or a promise. But a covenant is much more than that. In a contract two parties agree to an exchange of goods or services. But in a covenant two parties agree to an exchange of persons. They become bound to one another. There is a swearing of oaths. In “cutting the covenant” with Abraham, God binds Himself to Abraham and Abraham to Him. He will be Abraham’s God and the God of the people Abraham will father. (I suppose I could say “family” here, but “people” does seem to preserve the idea of a large number of people, whereas we moderns perhaps tend to think more of the small nuclear family when we use the word, so I guess that’s a point in favor of saying “People of God.” Just thinking out loud here.)
And he brought him forth abroad, and said to him: Look up to heaven and number the stars, if thou canst. And he said to him: So shall thy seed be.Gen. 15:5 Douay-Rheims Bible. Public domain.
“And God said to him: I AM, and my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.”Gen. 17:4 Douay-Rheims Bible, public domain.
The Lord makes several covenants with His people—mediated by Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, with the last covenant being mediated by His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We enter into that covenant when we are baptized. We ratify that covenant at every Mass. Jesus is our High Priest and we participate in His Priesthood and act as mediators because of our participation. We have a real priesthood, but it is not a ministerial priesthood. We the laity and our priests, who do have a ministerial priesthood, participate in the unique Priesthood of Christ (see Ibid., 52). There will be more about this in the Story of Salvation series.
“The faithful participate in the mission of Christ and thereby convert their lives and the world itself according to the spirit of the Lord. Through prayer, through family and social life, through apostolic initiatives, through work and rest, through trials and tribulations, the faithful raise up a holy offering to God, principally through the Holy Mass, the centre and root of the Christian life.”St J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 87.
And what is the Christian to be doing in life, with life?
“The principal field of activity for the laity lies in the realm of professional work, in the fulfilment of family and social duties…The laity take part in the prophetic mission of Christ. They are called to proclaim the word of God not just in the confines of the Church, but out in the middle of the world: in the factory, the office, the club, the home…The laity are to influence the social order with those Christian principles which will act to humanize and elevate, principles such as the dignity and primacy of the human person, social solidarity, the sanctity of the family and marriage, liberty with responsibility, love for the truth, the pursuit of justice, mutual understanding and fraternal charity.”Ibid., 53-54.
And priests have their own mission in life, their own mission to live. Through the sacrament of ordination,
“…the priest is constituted a minister of God and a dispenser of divine treasure. These treasures consist principally in the celebration of the Holy Mass and the power to forgive sins. The priest is converted into a channel of divine grace. The priest is a mediator between God and man, between heaven and earth. On the one hand he obtains the treasures of divine mercy, while on the other he distributes them to his fellow Christians…Each priest is of tremendous value to the Church and mankind. We have to pray that we may never lack good and holy priests, priests who are ever mindful of their dignity and mission.”Ibid., 56.
Priests are channels of divine grace for everyone in the world, whether Catholic or not. We need to pray for our priests. We need to pray for them to be true to their vocation, their calling. For them to stand strong in the face of persecution of all kinds. In the face of martyrdom, in the face of those who hate them because they were hurt by those who betrayed their calling, and betrayed the Lord and His Church, too. We need to pray for all those who have been hurt. And we need to pray for more faithful Catholic families who will raise up good men to become good faithful priests. The world needs them even if the world doesn’t know it or vehemently denies it.
Lord, strengthen Your people, that we remain faithful in the face of hostility and ill will, that we learn not to retaliate but to pray for conversion of hearts and minds, and to practice love and patience with ourselves and others. Strengthen Your priests and make them holy and righteous so that they bring glory to Your Name and grace and mercy to Your people, the Family of God.
Thank you for visiting and reading. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and become who you were meant to be: a saint! May the Lord bless and keep you, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
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Notes and Links
- In Conversation with God, by Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal. 7 volumes, vinyl cover with dust jacket, boxed. I’ve used these since my early days of conversion. And I always see something new and/or come to a deeper appreciation of it. (Amazon affiliate link. See Full Disclosure below.)
- Not to be confused with that other set of books, Conversations with God, a very New Age set of books. I always need to point this out because there’s always someone who looks at me sideways when I say mention the Catholic books.
- Christ is passing by, by St Josemaria Escrivá. Paperback, Kindle. (Amazon affiliate links. See Full Disclosure below.)
- Vatican II, Lumen Gentium.
Images: In the banner: The Last Supper, by Philippe de Champaigne. From Wikimedia Commons, public domain. I will make you the Father of Many Nations (Genesis 15:5), by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, digital image provided courtesy of Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, public domain. God’s covenant with Abraham in Gen. 17:4, by Wenceslas Hollar. From Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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Annotated Table of Contents for Christian Unity Series
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