God put flesh on His Word. With this action, He revealed Himself to His world, claimed space and time as His own, and challenged His people to be who and what they were created to be. He modeled life as it is to be lived, taught in parables, touched us with healings and even showed us how to be complete in death. Christ is born, the prophecies are fulfilled, God has entered our lives and we are now challenged to respond. In glorifying Christ, we recognize Him as God, we accept His Lordship, we enter into His Priesthood, and we complete our humanity.
The Word of God praises the Father and takes care of us. This typifies the priesthood of Christ. In the Liturgy the deacon commends us to stand alert and in awe of God so that we can offer our priestly oblation in Christ (peace). With the choir, we respond in words that express Christ’s priestly mission: “a mercy of Peace, a sacrifice of praise.” We respond to God by praising God and taking care of each other. We do this as Christians sharing in Christ’s action, which is His Priesthood.
There is much to say about the relationship of Christ’s nativity and His priesthood. The three aspects of Christian priesthood are prophet, priest and king, or, said in another way, the revelation of God’s will, mediation and stewardship. Christ’s lineage on the side of His mother is from Joachim, a descendant of David, and from Anna, who is a descendant of Levi. David expresses the priesthood of kingship while Levi represents the priesthood of sacrifice on behalf of the people. Levi represents the priestly tribe of the Jews, the Levites. On the side of His Father, the Word of God comes from God and reveals God, which is the very meaning of prophet. So Christ is a priest – the Priest – of kingship and sacrifice on the side of his mother, and a prophet – the Prophet – on the side of His Father. Christ is the priest.
By glorifying God we accept Him, and in accepting Him we join ourselves to Him. This is done by sharing in His priesthood, which is our corporate action. Liturgically this is experienced as we gather in His name to be the Church and praise the Father together with the angels in the Son by the action of the Holy Spirit. In the workplace this is done by sharing our God-given joy and peace as we witness to our harmony with God by doing our jobs well. In our families and with our friends, we share God's love, peace and joy, as we witness to each other the truths that God reveals.
God creates us in His own image and likeness. He loves, and so we love. He is merciful and so we are to be merciful. He forgives, and so we forgive, and in so doing accept new beginnings and new life. Christ is born; in glorifying Him we accept and multiply peace, mercy and good will in His world. In glorifying Christ we share in His mission and share in His life. Today Christ is born in us. We show mercy and love to those suffering in the Middle East, in the Philippines and in our homes. We share the joy of salvation because to us is born the life of the world.
This article, by The Right Rev. Bishop John Abdalah, was published as the editor's letter in the December 2013 issue of The Word magazine.