By Father Ray Atwood Prince of Peace Cluster – La Porte City, Eagle Center, Traer
The Priestly, Prophetic and Kingly Ministry of Baptism
The celebration of the Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan River concludes the Christmas Season. The Baptism of Jesus is an excellent opportunity to renew the promises each of us (or our parents and godparents in our name) made on that special day, namely to renounce Satan and all his works and empty promises.
It is also an opportunity to reflect on the rich graces we received at Baptism. In the Catholic Rite, part of the ceremony involves an anointing on the forehead immediately after Baptism. This reminds us of the power of the Holy Spirit, which came to rest on Jesus after He rose from the waters (Mk. 1:10).
The Church continues the work of the Trinity in this initiation sacrament. This anointing with Chrism Oil (olive oil mixed with balsam or perfume and blessed by the bishop at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week) gives the participant a share in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly ministry of the Savior.
What are these ministries? All three ministries come from Christ. Christ is our High Priest, as the Letter to the Hebrews points out in chapter nine. He offered His Body on the Cross to save sinners and open the gates of Paradise. The baptismal priesthood involves sharing in this sacrifice in Mass, which is the un-bloody renewal of Calvary. Lay persons participate by gathering and offering their prayers with the priest. They exercise their priesthood in the General Intercessions or Universal Prayer, a series of petitions for those in authority, the sick, the poor, the faithful departed and others intentions. They also exercise their priesthood in reciting the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father).
Jesus exercised His prophetic ministry by teaching the Beatitudes and parables about the Kingdom. He fulfilled the Law and the prophets. By teaching the Lord explained how He was the culmination of all the prophecies spoken in the centuries preceding Him. The laity exercise their prophetic ministry by witnessing to the Gospel and teaching their children how to know, love, and serve Jesus.
Finally, the kingly ministry is exercised in a specific way. When Jesus was in the desert He resisted the devil’s triple temptations. When we master our sins and overcome our vices, we exercise our “kingly authority.”
As we celebrate this special feast, may we grow in awareness of these ministries so we can more effectively exercise them.