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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Barron » Robert Barron - Priests, Prophets, and Kings

Robert Barron - Priests, Prophets, and Kings

Robert Barron - Priests, Prophets, and Kings

Peace be with you. Friends, one reason I love this feast of the Baptism of the Lord is it gives me the opportunity to talk about our own Baptism. Because even though most of us probably couldn't name the day we were baptized, we can name our birthday, but how many, I don't know if I could, could say "well that's the day I was baptized", because there's no day from a Christian standpoint more important than that. On the day of your Baptism you were grafted onto Christ in such a way that you shared in the Son's relationship to the Father. You are now a son or daughter in the Son. You could call the Father "Our Father".

See, in union with the Son of God, you were deified, you were divinized, you were brought into the divine life on that day. Everything else in Christian life flows from that great fact of your Baptism. Now I'm going to look at it in terms of three qualities. In being grafted onto Christ, you become identified with him as priest, as prophet, and as king. You're anointed as those three figures were in the Old Testament, priests, prophets, and kings. You were anointed too the day of your Baptism. So what does that mean? What is our baptismal identity? We'll look first at priesthood.

Who's a priest in the Bible? Well, a priest is someone who makes sacrifices on behalf of the people to God. A priest is someone who prays for the people, prays to God on their behalf. A priest is a mediator between humanity and divinity. A priest is a kind of border walker if you want, a friend of God. So think of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Ezekiel, Moses, all in different ways are priests in the Old Testament. And of course, Jesus is the high priest we say. Well, you're thinking, "I don't know. I'm a priest? I'm not ordained". Well, no. I mean, ordination to the ministerial priesthood is a particular expression now of this. But you were indeed anointed.

If you were baptized as a Catholic, you were indeed anointed as priest. So what does that mean? It means first I think, you must be a person of prayer. And here I'm talking about not so much prayer for your own sake but intercessory prayer for the sake of others. How often I hear it as a priest and a bishop and you hear it too when someone says, "Could you please pray for me? Pray for me". Well, what they're doing in asking that, they're awakening your priesthood. They're awakening your identity as a priest who can make intercession on their behalf before God. And you say, "Well, no, I guess just the ordained priest and bishops". No, no. No. Every baptized person is called to that kind of intercessory prayer.

So parents, Catholic parents, do you pray for your kids on a regular basis? Do you intercede for them in a priestly way? Children, do you pray for your parents? Well, you're a priest too if you're baptized. Intercede on their behalf before the Lord. Husbands, do you pray for your wives? Wives, do you pray for your husbands? That's a priestly obligation that you have. Families, do you pray before meals both when you're at home and maybe out at the restaurant where it gets a little more challenging? I face that a lot, especially if I'm wearing my Roman collar and you're out publicly in a restaurant. Well, when you pray you're giving witness, that's true. But you're also just exercising your priesthood, you're interceding. Parents, do you bless your kids before they go to bed at night? I've seen that in some families. Beautiful custom. The kids come before mom and dad and they're blessed formally.

Well, that's a priestly act. Good. You're praying for them, interceding for them. And here's a challenge now I'll throw out to everybody. Are you going to Mass? Now, statistically, I know the answer. Frankly the vast majority of you baptized are not going to Mass. Numbers in our country are about 20 to 25% of Catholics go to Mass on a regular basis. Now, we're a lot better than Europe and Australia, but that's kind of damning with faint praise, because their numbers are really bad. 75% of baptized priests are staying away from the central prayer of the Church where your priesthood is most fully expressed. I know even a lot of Catholics are probably scratching their heads. "What's he talking about"?

There's a little prayer in the Mass, and we kind of go through it quickly and I bet a lot of people just don't even pay attention to it. But it's a pivotal prayer and it names what I'm talking about. The priest says now right before the prayer over the gifts, he says, "Pray friends that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty". He's not saying, "Hey, pray that my sacrifice that I'm uniquely offering". No, no. "That my sacrifice and yours". In other words, all the people at Mass are joining themselves to the sacrifice of the priest who's joined to the great sacrifice of Christ himself to the Father.

But the point is, everybody there is a priest. That's why it's wonderful that just before this we take up the collection. The collection is not like a little pause in the middle of Mass. No, it's part of Mass because you're sacrificing something, you're giving for the sake of others. You're expressing a priestly act in the donation that you give. Don't stay away from the source and summit of the Christian life. That's when your priesthood is most fully expressed. So as baptized, you're a priest. Secondly, you're a prophet.

Now who's a prophet? A prophet is somebody who speaks the words of God. How common this is in the Bible. How many prophets there are from Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Zechariah, Elijah, on and on. People who are summoned by God to speak on his behalf. When Jeremiah says, "Oh Lord, don't choose me, I'm too young". And the Lord says, "Don't say you're too young. A prophet to the nations I've appointed you". Isaiah says, "Oh, I'm a man of unclean lips". And the Lord purifies lips, and then Isaiah says, "Send me to speak and to preach". Good. You're a prophet too. You've been anointed, if you're baptized, to speak the words of God.

Now is this a walk in the park? Is this a bowl of cherries? Uh-uh. Look at the prophets in the Old Testament, how often they come to grief. Look at Jeremiah. For his troubles he's put in the stocks and he's thrown into a cistern and probably the end of his life probably put to death. Think of Elijah pursued by the troops of Jezebel. No, prophets get in trouble. And look at our supreme prophet, the one who's the Incarnation of the divine Word itself. Jesus comes to the cross because of his prophecy. No, it's a dangerous business, it always has been, to speak God's word. But, but, my fellow baptized, you are anointed for that purpose.

So what does that look like? Well, I don't mean this in a proselytizing way. No one likes that. I don't mean it in a wearing-it-on-your-sleeve way. No one likes that. But do you speak publicly about your faith? Some people are called to get up, it's part of my task, get up very publicly and do it, but everybody who's baptized, let people know that you're a Catholic, that you're proud of it, that you articulate the faith, that the words of faith are on your lips readily. That's just part of prophecy. You know something else? What's the last really good book of theology or spirituality that you read? "Oh, look, that's not for me. I'm no theologian". Yeah, but you're a prophet. You are baptized to be a prophet to speak the word of God. Therefore, do you study the Scriptures? Do you study the great theologians? The great spiritual writers? Maybe not at the Thomas Aquinas level.

Okay, that's for the specialist. But every baptized person should be ready, remember what Peter said to us, should be ready to give a reason for the hope that's in you. So when young people, and believe me, they're out there in great numbers, they come and say, "Hey, I don't understand this," or "this makes no sense to me," or "I don't get why the Church holds that," are you ready to respond? I mean, parents, teachers. Well get ready, get prepared. You know, you've got two eyes and a brain and you can pick up a book and study. Well that's part of the call, it seems to me, of every prophet, and every baptized person is a prophet.

Here's something that always strikes me when I'm baptizing a baby and you turn to the parents, it's part of the ritual, and you say, "You are pledging to be the first teachers of this child in the ways of the faith". That's a big responsibility, isn't it? Your child's baptized and you say, "I'm just going to turn that completely over to catechists later in that child's life". Well, God bless the catechists but that's not sufficient, because you, as their parent, you're the prophet. You're the one meant to speak the divine truth from the time they're little kids. I still remember my mother teaching me this move. I don't know how old I was. Three, four? I don't know what I was. Still remember my mother teaching me the sign of the cross. Yup. She was acting as a prophet. We all should.

And then finally, you're priest, you're prophet, you're king. Lots of kings in the Bible of course. What do I mean now in this spiritual context? A king is someone, listen now, who orders the charisms in such a way as to lead people to God. A king in the spiritual sense orders the charism. The Holy Spirit gives these charisms, these gifts, these capacities, and the king is the one who sees them and, like a commander in the field, like an orchestra conductor who has all these different players in front of him and has to bring them together for a common purpose, so the king sees the charisms and then orders them toward the kingdom of God. Now the pope in Rome is doing that in the grandest possible way. Archbishops and cardinals and so on are doing it in a very high way.

But see, every baptized person is called upon to do that. What are the charisms that you are aware of in people's lives, and how do you direct them to God? Parents again, how do you direct your kids so that they above all are discerning their vocation? That's the purpose of a family, by the way, in a spiritual sense. What makes a family holy is when everyone in that family is discovering his or her purpose. Well, parents are acting as kings when they govern and direct their children toward the kingdom of God. But your own friends, your own acquaintances, in your place of work, do you take what's available to you and direct it as best you can toward the things of God?

Then you're acting as a king. Here's something that's very interesting. All the spiritual masters talk about this. The first place maybe we exercise kingship is in regard to ourselves. What I mean is getting a mastery over oneself. If there's all kinds of conflicting desires and impulses and tendencies in us, well then we're not going to move effectively toward the kingdom of God. But if you get control of your life in such a way that you can order your mind and your will and your passions and your private life and your public life all in the direction of God, well then you've got a kingly sovereignty, a kingly authority over yourself.

And that, by the way, will enable you to become a much more efficacious king in regard to those around you. Every baptized person, called upon to be a king. How effective are we? Or are we abdicating that responsibility? So let's everybody take advantage of this feast day, the Baptism of the Lord. When we were baptized, we joined him. We were grafted onto him. We became other christs. What does that mean, "christos"? Anointed. All anointed priests, prophets, and kings. Let's live out that identity. And God bless you.
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