Holy Week and Priesthood

Since the Paschal Mystery remains at the heart and wellspring of our eucharistic identity as Christians, I am finding fitting to share for this Holy Week this long quote from Louis William Countryman‘s book Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All. The author is an ordained Episcopal priest, a gay theologian, and professor emeritus of Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. Words in capital letters are in the book.

“The priesthood of the Christian people is not primarily a matter of religion – though religion plays its role in support of our common priesthood…” Our priesthood is lived out primarily in the world of everyday existence. Here too Jesus offers us a sense of direction. Jesus did not reject religion, but he took it much less seriously than the religious authorities thought was right. He excused his disciples when they violated the sabbath – and overrode the sabbath himself to perform works of mercy.”

“…he was not a priest of religion himself. Instead, he allowed his nearness with God to be manifest in his living of everyday life – in the streets and marketplaces and houses of ancient Palestine as well as in the synagogues and Temple.”

“He reconnected the Holy and everyday, not in a pious way that might tend to submerge the everyday world under a cloak of religious ceremonies, but in a way that gave reverence to the PRESENCE that was already there. He was able to see faith in God in the sick, to hear TRUTH in the words of a Gentile woman (Mark 7:24-30), to see the bountifulness of the CREATOR in the fleeting glory of wild flowers (Matthew 6:28-30). He taught in the synagogue and the Temple, but it was not primarily there that he met God. He met God in the wilderness and in the streets. The priesthood of the Christian people will work itself out in the same sphere, standing alongside one another and the rest of humanity as we seek to understand our experience of the HIDDEN REALITY at the roots of our daily world.”

____________________________________________

L. William Countryman, Living on the Border of the Holy: Renewing the Priesthood of All (Morehouse Publishing: PA, 1999, p.76)

 

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