The Catholic Defender: Apostolic Succession, The Call Of the Priesthood of Christ
"Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all." Luke 6:12-19
The Apostles would become the foundation of the Priesthood of Christ who commissioned them to go to all the world. (Ephesians 2:19-20, Matthew 28:16-20)
Our Lady would see these chosen men as her son's (Psalms 45:16) while St. John would see these men as priests of Jesus Kingdom (Revelation 5:10).
I wish that I had a nickle for every time I heard someone tell me that Christ did away with the priesthood and the Sacrifice. I'd be a rich man today. I am rich, but not necessarily through worldly wealth.
I am blessed beyond measure. For the times that God has saved me and forgiven me, healing me and restoring me through his priesthood in my life. Every time I go to Confession I receive his grace. My sins are thrown into the sea of forgetfulness and he remembers them no more. Every time I receive Jesus in Holy Communion, I renew the Covenant with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The one who created all creation: the stars in the heavens, some people look to the stars for their answers, I can go to the one who made the stars who is the answer.
Jesus offers us his grace through the Ministry of his Catholic Church. What great blessings we receive that cleanses us, heals us, forgives us, and strengthens us. The Old Testament Priesthood of Levi was a foreshadowing of the Priesthood of Christ. God's people in the Old Testament received only a glimpse and the hope for what Christ initiated in the upper room. Christ is the "Son of David" who sits upon the throne. He sits at the right hand of God the Father. Moses said, "A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen" (Deuteronomy 18:15). Compare this with what Jesus said, "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me" (Luke 10:16).
Moses was laying the foundation for the promise of the Messiah, Jesus is giving his authority to his Priesthood. " As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord (Exodus 34:29). Matthew 17:2-3 states, "And He (Jesus) was transfigured before them (Peter, James, and John); his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him". Moses shone brightly because he was in the presence of God Almighty, Jesus Shone brightly revealing his glory as the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity. The Israelite's were given manna to feed the people in the desert (Exodus 16). Jesus is the "Bread of Life" who restores life through an everlasting Covenant (John 6).
Moses struck the water giving drink to the thirsty (Exodus 17:6) and Jesus said to the woman at the well: "Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him and he would have given you living water" (John 4:10). Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Sacrifices of the animals with his own Sacrifice on the cross. As the Old Testament sacrifices blotted out sin as a foreshadowing of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Ephesians 5:1-5 states, "So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not be mentioned among you, as is fitting among the holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God". St. Peter instructs the Presbyters (Priests), "So I exhort the presbyters among you, as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed. Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory".
Notice St. Peter instructing them to "Tend the flock of God"! Jesus had instructed St. Peter with the very same charge, "Tend my sheep", and "Feed my Lambs" (John 21:15-16). Jesus gives his Church the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the power to "bind and loose", the power to forgive sins, to anoint the sick. To offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, "Do this in memory of me" (Luke 22:19). The Apostles ordained men through the "imposition of hands of the presbyterate" (1 Timothy 4:14). Through Apostolic Succession, the Priesthood (presbyterate) of Christ continues to offer the pure and holy sacrifice, "For from the rising of the sun, even to it's setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering" (Malachi 1:11). Jesus Christ is this "pure offering". The sacrifice is the Mass, Jesus offers himself to the Father in an unbloodied sacrifice, a perpetual Sacrament offered continually. Jesus died only once and for all, but the efficacy of that sacrifice is presented in the Mass.
When you receive the Eucharist, you receive Jesus Christ totally, body, blood, soul, and divinity. "Transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio, in Greek μετουσίωσις metousiosis) means the change of the substance of host bread and sacramental wine into the substance of the Body and Blood (respectively) of Jesus in the Eucharist, while all that is accessible to the senses (accidents) remains as before" (Wikipedia). From the Didache, "Let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist with you except those who have been baptized in the Name of the Lord," for it was in reference to this that the Lord said, "Do not give that which is holy to dogs." Matthew 7:6 St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, "I desire the bread of GOD, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ".
St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote (106 A.D.) "stand aloof from such heretics", because, among other reasons, "they abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." St. Justin Martyr wrote (150 A.D.), "Not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." St. Justin Martyr wrote, "Now it is evident, that in this prophecy to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks." This is the Catholic Church, this is the Kingdom of God on earth, this is the New Testament based from the New and Everlasting Covenant established by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Virgin Mary appearing at Fatima Portugal echoes Hebrews 13:18, "Pray for us, for we are confident that we have a clear conscience, wishing to act rightly in every respect. I especially ask for your prayers that I may be restored to you very soon". Mary would warn us not to judge a Priest, but to pray for them.
There would be Priests that will displease our Lord. They will face judgment and they need our prayers. As we go forward through the Church year, remember to pray and obey our leaders (Hebrews 13:17).