…because of the grace… in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God….
There are differences among Christians, and then there are disagreements. Differences can be of various types, including those willed by God Himself for the sake of the Church. Saint Paul has preached about “diversity for the sake of unity” in the First Readings of recent days. Differences can come about through human sin, contrary to the will of God. But disagreements often point to something more difficult to reconcile: beliefs that are contrary to the mind of God.
There are disagreements among Christians about Christians serving others as priests. A priest, of course, is a mediator: in more common parlance, a “middle man”. He stands between God and another human person in order to serve that person: in order to bridge the gap between God and the other. Is there such a thing as an authentic Christian priesthood? If so, what form or forms does it take?
Saint Paul in today’s First Reading shows us that the answer to the first of these questions is “Yes”. Speaking to the Romans about himself, St. Paul speaks of his “priestly service of the Gospel… so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable”.
Among Christians who speak regularly against Catholic teaching and practice about the priesthood, you will often hear that there is only one mediator, Jesus Christ. Therefore, there ought to be no human mediators between “me and Jesus”, as they might put it. But St. Paul’s words today—inspired as they are by the Holy Spirit—clearly show such an idea to be contrary to the mind of God. This is only the first principle by which to understand Christian priesthood, but it’s good for us to reflect on it today.