Catholics are Baptized and Anointed as Priest, Prophet and King

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According to the Catholic Church, those who are baptized in Jesus’ name are anointed to be priest, prophet, and king for the community, The People of God.

Anointing with Chrism
After baptizing with water, then the celebrant says:
God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth
by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints
you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so
may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.

ALL: Amen.

It can be said, therefore, that we participate in those roles inside and outside of the official rites of the Church called the Sacraments. We do this in many different pastoral and liturgical ministries. But first, let’s understand the meaning and significance of each role.

In ancient Egyptian religion, the right and obligation to interact with the gods belonged to the pharaoh. He delegated this duty to priests, who were effectively bureaucrats authorized to act on his behalf.  In Judaism, priests were responsible for the daily and special Jewish holiday offerings and sacrifices within the temples. The word “priest”, is ultimately derived from Greek via Latin presbyte, the term for “elder”, especially elders of Jewish or Christian communities in biblical times. The Latin presbyter ultimately represents Greek πρεσβύτερος presbúteros, the regular Latin word for “priest” being sacerdos. corresponding to ἱερεύς hiereús or priest of the temple, a kohen in Hebrew. According to Judaism, this person “stood ready before God”. The person was seen as one who would act as an intermediary or negotiator.

Eventually, in the early Christian Church of the later first century, the term presbyter or elder was associated with one responsible for a community of believers or disciples of Jesus. Today that is referred to as a parish or a Church. As an elder, the person acted as a leader for worship services in the home or in a larger setting and eventually became known a pastor coming from the word in Latin, to feed. Acting pastoral meant that the person nourished and nurtured his gathering (ecclesia) of people. Note that the word ecclesia became the word for the activity or language of the Church or ecclesiastical affairs.

A prophet was a person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God from the Greek word,  prophētēs or spokesman. This is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on behalf of that being, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. In some circles, the message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

In addition to writing and speaking messages from God, Israelite or Judean nevi’im (“spokespersons”, “prophets”) often acted out prophetic parables in their life. For example, in order to contrast the people’s disobedience with the obedience of the Rechabites, God has Jeremiah invite the Rechabites to drink wine, in disobedience to their ancestor’s command. The Rechabites refuse, for which God commends them. Other prophetic parables acted out by Jeremiah include burying a linen belt so that it gets ruined to illustrate how God intends to ruin Judah’s pride. In Christianity, a prophet (or seer) is one inspired by God through the Holy Spirit to deliver a message.

King comes from Basileus (Greek: βασιλεύς) which is a Greek term and title that has signified various types of monarchs in history. In the English-speaking world it is perhaps most widely understood to mean “king” or “emperor”. The title was used by sovereigns and other persons of authority in ancient Greece, the Byzantine emperors, and the kings of modern Greece. In Judaism. the tension of allowing for a monarch while at the same time advancing the idea of the sole kingship of God was constantly felt throughout their history.

When the Jews asked Samuel for a king: “To judge us like all the nations,” Samuel is upset (Samuel I, Chap. 8). Wanting to be like all the nations is a distortion of the unique Torah definition of kingship where the king remains beholden to God. With the advent of kingship, Israel is led by one authority whose major task is to unite the entire Am (nation). The unique Torah definition of kingship is that the king remains beholden to God and does not think of himself as a god.

So, for Catholics and possibly all Christians, all of this means that as a result of the anointing that occurred at our baptism we are expected to share in the mission of the Lord Jesus. “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.

“You are the light of the world.” says, Jesus, “A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mt 5:14-16

This means that we are to activate that anointing by participating in building up the Kingdom of God on earth. We pray, “Thy Kingdom Come” which puts the responsibility for its coming, upon our shoulders with the help of Divine Grace which comes from the Spirit of God at baptism and from every good thought, word, and deed that emanates from our being.

We act as a priest when we are an intermediary between God and any of God’s creation. In today’s world, the environment is as important as any human. That’s hard for us to grasp since we use the environment for our advantage. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” ….. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Gen 2: 7 and 15

We act as a priest when we act as a pastor to shepherd or lead another to goodness and well-being; when we walk with them, have empathy and compassion for them, show them mercy and forgive them no matter how much they offend or hurt us. Our example is more important that our words or prayers.

Praying or leading prayer is another action that we perform as a priest. The former means praying on behalf of those who cannot pray or are not in our presence. I’m opposed to asking God or petitioning God for Grace or anything we need. Why? Because God expects us to do the work. God share God’s LOVE in the act of creation and in the environment present to us on this earth. “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”….

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Gen 1: 28-31 God’s Love is all around us and only taken from us by evil actions that hurt us or others. God expects all of us to act to comfort those who are hurt. To render the help of all that is at our disposal. That’s how the grace of God is active.

What more can we expect? You might say, well, can’t we ask God to heal and cure us? To help those in need, for those victims of disasters and crime. To act as a priest, I believe we must be the intermediary that reminds people that God’s Grace and Love is enough for us to overcome any hardship, disappointment, or disease even death. Isn’t that what we believe??

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, Romans 8:11, he writes:“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” If we help someone open themselves to the Grace of God and God’s Love or remind them with the Word of God, we are praying for them. Paul wrote letters when he couldn’t be there with them or thought about them as he dwelt upon that Word. Now I know we read that many “asked God” for favors or help, even Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Mt 7:7. Yet we can’t expect God to answer every request can we? Jesus said we are to pray, “Thy Will be done”! SO why ask? We must knock and the door will be opened!

SO what does it mean to ask and knock? Grace is available to us everywhere and anytime. We just need to open ourselves up and allow that grace to pour over us like the water of baptism or the oil of anointing. Asking for guidance is really asking ourselves to read and meditate on the Word of God and to gather with another and converse about that Word. “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am.” Then we can discern God’s Will. Knocking is letting someone know we are there, isn’t it? Remember Isaiah’s reflection: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Is 6:8 Isn’t that what all of us who ponder the Word of God can do if we ask ourselves, “what is God’s Will, or knock on another’s door and seek guidance? How about opening the Bible and reading it, then contemplating on the very words we just read and asking ourselves how God’s Word speaks to us.

What does it mean for us to be a prophet? One who is a teacher, one who proclaims the Word of God, one who sows the seed of the Word among the People of God and those who never heard about God or Jesus. Our prayer leads us to speak out when things are not right, when injustice occurs, when abuse is manifest before our very eyes, when we read about racism bigotry, homophobia or any harm done to any creature or to any part of our planet. We speak for God as a prophet! However we must LISTEN as Isaiah and the other prophets did. This requires a quiet atmosphere. We must spend time meditating on the Word of God and even discussing it with others who have prayed or are open to the Spirit.

“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,…”

The Quakers or Friends, as they are called, do just that, open themselves to the Spirit of God when they come in silence and sit together at the meeting place. The Friend’s Meeting is a place where people sit in a square or circular arrangement of seats or pews and wait for the Spirit to move them. They share whatever the Spirit prompts them to say or sing. This is what the prophets did. They waited quietly for God to speak to them. This is what Jesus did before and after he ministered, healed, and fed the people with whom he walked and talked.

Many religious authors, people, and even non- religious people share their thoughts and reflections and can enlighten us. Art and Music as well as nature can speak to us, to our minds, our hearts, and souls. Isn’t that why Francis of Assisi called the sun “brother” and the moon, “sister”.

Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon
St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

Finally, to be a king in the Kingdom of God means to act as God would, to care for and protect the planet and all that is on it! A king, chieftain, sovereign leads the people over which he “rules”. So must we! Not as one who “rules over” but as one who serves! “So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mk 10: 42-45

As a priest, a prophet, and a king, we pray the words Jesus taught us with confidence: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. You give us today our daily bread. And you forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And you lead us not into temptation, but you deliver us from the evil one.” Mt 6: 9-13

As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so
may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.


Let your prayer be: “I belong where I am needed.” ejsherretta@gmail.com

About Dr. Ernie Sherretta, D. Min.

Retired Director of Religious Education for the Catholic Church since 2014, granted a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Religious Studies from St. Charles Seminary, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Immaculata University, and a Doctor of Ministry from the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Spiritual Well-Being Counselor
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