•                               As Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is calledPeter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people”. (Mt.4:18-20). This is abeautiful scene depicting how Jesus invites the disciples to serve in the kingdom o fGod, he planned to institute. And they, leaving their parents and everything, followedJesus. The service of the kingdom of God is, at present, entrusted to the priests. This mission will be rendered in the Church until the end of the world

    Priesthood in the Old Testament

            God selected Israel as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. He selected the tribeof Leviespecially for the liturgical service; they were appointed to offer gifts and  sacrifices. The sacrifices and priesthood of the oldcovenant were merely shadows of the sacrifice andpriesthood of the new covenant to be perfected through Jesus.  When Christ has offered for all timea single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the righthand of God…. by a single offering he has perfectedfor all time those who are sanctified”.


    Read in groups chapter nineof the letter to the Hebrewsand compare the priesthood  of the Old Testament with the priesthood of Jesus

    Priest - One Who is Placed in the Front

                              The word 'priest' means one who is placed in front. Yes, God places him in front ofthe people; at the same time, he is placed in front of God by the Church. There is also onemediator between God and humankind. (1 Tim. 2: 5). The priest, through his priesthood,shares the eternal priesthood o f Jesus. Thus, he acts as the mediator between God and man.

    The Common Priesthood

                                          All baptized are incorporated into the priesthood of Jesus. This is the common priesthood of the people of God “..You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people” (1Peter. 2: 9) St. Peter refers, here, to the common priesthood.Common priesthood exhorts us to carry on our life and activities in a spirit of sacrificial offering and thus introduce Jesus to all around us.

    The Ministerial Priesthood

                                          God selects some people and appoints them especially for his service. Jesusmakes them share his mission ofleading, teaching, and sanctifyingthe people of God. Jesus selectedthem and authorized them toproclaim the message, to heal thesick, and to cast out demons (Mk 3:14-15). Thus , he gave the disciples authority to reach the fruits of salvation he secured, through the paschalmysteries, to the future generations. He gifted them with the Holy Spirit and strengthenedthem. This same mission, now, he has entrusted to the bishops, the successors of theapostles, and their assistant ministers, the priests and the deacons.

    The Co-workers of the Disciples

                                             Wherever the disciples preached the gospel, they appointed the priests as their coworkers and ordered them to be vigilant to tend the flock of God. The apostles ordained their assistant ministers 'laying hands on them'. St. Paul says to Timothy, “. I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands  (2 Tim. 1:6)  Thebishops who are successors of the apostles hand over the priesthood through 'the laying on of handsThe most important part of the ministry of the Holy Orders is the prayer of 'layingon of hands'. Priesthood is conferred through this rite of 'laying on of hands' and with thespecial grace of the Holy Spirit. In the ancient Church, the deacons were ordained through 'laying on of hands'. (Acts. 6: 1-6).

    The Succession of the Apostles and

    the Grace of the Holy Spirit

                                   There are two prayers during imposition of hands in the ordination service of theSyro-Malabar liturgy. In the first prayer of imposition, the bishop prays thus: “ Lord, true tothe apostolic tradition entrusted upon us, through the laying on of hands, I am presentingthis humble servant in front of you so as to be a selected priest of your Church. May thegrace of the Holy Spirit descend upon him, and with the mercy and blessings of your onlySon, he may become mature enough to execute the ministry of priesthood in all perfection”.This prayer clarifies that the Holy Orders has an apostolic succession and that it iscontinued with the power of the Holy Spirit. Even if the person called for priesthood isunworthy, the power of the divine Spirit makes him worthy. The prayer during the liturgy ofthe word reminds us about this fact: “ With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the status of actualpriesthood is being granted through the imposition of hands. Though we are humble andinsignificant, out of your mercy you have made us eligible to be worthy members of thebody of your Church and render spiritual service to the faithful.”

    ACTIVITY - 2

    Group the children into fourand ask them to share thequalities that you expect
    if one of you becomes a priest.

    Priestly Duties

                          In the prayer of the imposition of hands , the celebrant reminds of the special duties of a priest andalso prays for the grace to execute them. The importantduties of a priest, mentioned in this prayer, arepreaching the word of truth, healing the sick layinghands on them, performing the ministries in thesanctuary with a clear conscience, officiating thesacraments of Reconciliation and Baptism andMatrimony. Through these, a priest is executing the missions of Christ.

    Priest- the Teacher

                              The prophets were people appointed by God toconverse with the people of Israel in the name of Godand lead them to God after correcting their mistakes.Teaching is a prophetic mission. Jesus was the greatestGod-sent prophet. He was the greatest teacher theworld has ever seen. He devoted his public life entirelyto teach. The churches, synagogues, hilltops, valleys,fields and even seashore were pulpits for him to teach.The priest, who partakes in Jesus' priesthood, is boundto teach. The primary duty of a priest is to inform thegood news of salvation to everyone.(Priests 4). It is theduty of a priest to impart authoritative knowledgepertaining to faith and morality to the people of God. Hemust execute this mission according to the teachings of the Church

    Priest - the Sanctifier

                                          The priests of the old covenant were selectedand ordained by God to celebrate sacrifices andofferings and thereby sanctify them. But, thosesacrifices and offerings were too ineffective totransform the worshippers because they were mereshadows of the real. On the other hand, Jesus,celebrating an eternal sacrifice and that too only once,could secure the sanctification - salvation - of the wholeof humanity. The priest who partakes in the priesthoodof Jesus is invited to sanctify the people of God. Hefulfills this mission through the sanctifying rituals of theholy Qurbana and the sacraments. His faith andsanctity in life and prayer are helpful for the sanctification of the people of God.

    Priest - the Leader

                                                           God crowned and appointed kings to lead andprotect Israel. Jesus is the true shepherd who sacrificedhis life for his people. The priests are supposed to leadthe flock through the pastures of grace and ultimately toheaven. His leadership is that of service, not ofauthority. Jesus said: " The Son of Man has come not tobe served, but to serve". A priest has to conduct thepeople of God from the slavery of sin to the freedom ofthe love of God.

    The Call to Priesthood

                             Just as Jesus selected and appointed the twelve disciples, he invites certain people,today, to execute his mission. We should be ready to respond to this. The sacrament of theHoly Orders, through which one is incorporated into the priesthood of Jesus is very sublimeTheyou shoulder..." If God calls us for the excellent priesthood we must respond to the call. Godhas His own plans for all of us. When we live according to God's plan our life becomes fruitiful.We must pray incessantly to know what is God's plan for us. Frequent reception of the sacraments, Bible reading etc. are means to promote vocations to priesthood. We shouldpray that God provides many good priests to the Church.hymn in the ritual of the Holy Orders is worthy of attention : ' How superior is the position

    LET US


    (2 Tim. 1 : 3 - 14)

    A Verse to Remember

    "And one does not presume to take this honour,
    but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was".
    (Heb. 5: 4)

    Let us Pray

    O Jesus who asked us to pray to send
    people to the field of harvest, we pray that you give us
    many priests, religious and lay apostles.

    My Resolution

    I will pray for the priests daily.

    Teachings of the Fathers of the Church

    The priests, through the sacrament of the Holy Orders, recieve the perfect
    image of Jesus, the high priest. The priests being the ministers of Jesus,the head of the
    Church and the co-workers of the bishops, must engage inbuilding up the Church,
    the full body of Christ. Like all Christians they too have received the signs of divine vocation and grace in
    theconsecration of baptism. So they are enabled and obliged even in the midstof human
    weakness to seek perfection. (Priests 12)