Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Prophet, Priest and King

When we are baptized we are given the 3-fold office of Prophet, Priest and King. This correlates well with what we often hear about the role of church leaders. People talk about how they are to teach, govern and sanctify. Teaching is the prophetic role. Sanctifying is the priestly role. Governing is what kings do. So we can see what that looks like in the clergy. But we are all called to be prophets and priests and kings. What does that look like? This is particularly relevant regarding the New Evangelization because a lot of what you see out there tends to emphasize one of these areas and imply that the others are less important. The truth is we need them all to succeed in the New Evangelization or any other spiritual endeavor.

Being a king involves governing you affairs in a holy manner. Think of the fruits of the spirit: love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. When Catholics do these things they become magnets for lost souls. People want to know how to love authentically, how to have deep joy, how to be at peace with who they are, etc. Our role as laypeople is to show them that.

You look at the response to Pope Francis. What do people comment on? How he seems to really care about the poor and how he seems to be so real and so happy. It touches people. But we are all called to touch people with our holiness. Somehow society has associated holiness with being judgmental and boring. Whose fault is that? It is ours as lay Catholics. We have either not looked any different or the differences we have shown have not been clearly rooted in love and producing joy and peace. Obviously this is important for a bunch of reasons but it is also going to be the primary way to draw people to Jesus.

Secondly we have the priestly office. For laypeople that is prayer, fasting, alms-giving, and various other sacrifices we can offer up for the salvation of souls. How often do we do this? We are busy but a little can go a long way here. If we learn to lift up the struggles we face and turn them into an intercession for the soul of a loved one. That is what a priest does. He offers a sacrifice to God for another person. When we do that it not only aids in saving souls but it really sanctifies all of our life. It means we don't just pray when we have nothing else to do but we pray whenever we suffer. Way more often.

Lastly, being a prophet implies speaking God's word into a particular situation. Laypeople don't give homilies. Still they do need to know God's word and be able to communicate it. Many Catholics hate doing this. But the gospel is important. We need to understand it well, first of all, for ourselves, but also for other people. Yes we can draw people's interest with our actions and with our prayers. They are not going to respond to that by reading the Catechism or signing up for RCIA. What they are going to do is ask us questions. We need to be comfortable answering them. What is more we need to do it in a Christ-centered way. Don't just say "that is how I was raised" or give some other secular rationale for what you do. That is taking glory that rightly belongs to God and ascribing it to man. We believe the good we do comes from the grace of God. We need to say so both for our sake and the sake of the person asking.

For the New Evangelization to be a success we need to get all these things right. It is not a question of picking one and declaring it to be the key. We need them all. The good news is we don't need to start with a big group. The first evangelization started small. When we get it right it will grow. As long as it is growing it is only a matter of time before it transforms the church and eventually the world.

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