Christian Priesthood

Let me share and reflect with you my thoughts on the ‘mysteries’ the ‘church’ ‘celebrates’ on Maundy Thursday.

It is said to be the day of the institution of *priesthood* as well as *Eucharist*, the reason for priestly ministry.

Let us now reflect on certain biblical, rather gospel sayings attributed to Jesus whom people expected, experienced and who evolved into the *Christ*.

The only call Jesus makes in the gospels is to follow him, that is, to be his *disciples*. The only references to priests were for ritualistic reasons and predominantly for plotting, executing and ensuring the death of Jesus.

As for the gospels, Jesus could be anything other than a priest. Making Jesus a priest might have been the handiwork of Pauline school with its Jewish overtures to be found specifically in the letter to the Hebrews.

There were enough reference to his being the Christ, both in the infancy narratives as well as later in his public ministry. Also, his *kingship* was foreseen by the Magi and it was rather the sole issue at his trial. However, he was clearly recognized to be a *prophet*.

And this ‘priesthood’ was far fetched institution for specific reasons of *authority* which Jesus denounced categorically (Mk 10:42-43). Though kingship was a succession, ‘priesthood’ belongs to a clan, a tribe, specifically Levitis. And prophetism was a call and conferred, though at times it too was succeeded.

With regard to the *’call’ to priesthood*, it must be deciphered that it is not from Jesus. The Jesus before ‘Christianity’ and as emerged from the gospels is the real Jesus. But the Jesus who is made into a priest was, is and would be the necessity of the institutional church after the Constantanion embrace…

The *’way’* of the disciples became *’Christians’* of Antioch which was slowly and steadily converted into a *’church’* by the Pauline school and it got definitively metamorphised into what we see today was Constantine’s contribution compromising with the categorical demands of the Kingdom.

This is not to disturb or to discourage priesthood, but to caution against all possible temptations to compromise, if not forget and abandon Jesus.

In spite of the ‘sinfulness’ and the consequent ‘unworthiness’ we are called and made priests, we are told repeatedly. And thereafter we go after everything unworthily and never try to be worthy.

This is contrary to what Jesus taught us in the true biblical tradition which in the very first chapter of the first book, Genesis says that we were created in God’s own image and likeness. He taught us that God is our father and we, his *children*. He called us *friends*. He who claimed to be the light of of the world said that we are the *light of the world*. He asked us to *be perfect as his heavenly father is perfect.*

The entire Sermon on the mount (Mt 5-8) is an exhortation for the disciples. Let’s try our best not to compromise with that, and betray Jesus and his Kingdom whatever be the temptations, power, position or possession. Let’s remind ourselves of his exhortation, *”seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”* (Mt 6:33).