July 23, 2019
The “Royal priesthood” of the Church
and the “dignified stature” of our People*
The identity of the pastor and his role in the therapeutic process is a topic that is widely discussed in many ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical circles. It is a topic that has mainly concerned western societies because of the changes they have undergone resulting from their extreme secularization.
What is often forgotten is that the identity of the pastor is directly associated with his way of life, his ethos. St. Paul clarifies this in his epistle to Tito, where he describes the charisma (ethos) that a bishop should have:
“A bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or addicted to wine or violent or greedy for gain; but he must be hospitable, a lover of goodness, prudent, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:7-9).
The Great Hierarch is the one and only, our Lord Jesus Christ. His Hierarchy is crucificial. Unique is the Royal Priesthood of His Church and, being so, it pervades through all its members. All the faithful, both clergy and laymen, have the pastoral crucifying responsibility “to proclaim the mighty acts of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Peter 2:9). Each member is endowed with special gifts, that given by the Holy Spirit, and has the mission to minister to the Body of Christ and to take part in the Church’s work for mankind’s salvation (1 Corth. 12: 4-17). All members have their own diakonia, their charismatic gifts, their special service. Thus, all those that minister the Body of Christ are obligated to consciously cultivate their Royal Priesthood, their spiritual gifts, which are similar to those of the bishop.
The “dignified stature” which has characterized our People, our Genos,* throughout the ages is deeply founded in this “Royal Priesthood” and in a collective pastoral responsibility for all mankind. It seems that in our times, this “dignified stature” has slowly becoming extinct. One reason for this is that we have not cultivated the spiritual gifts that St. Paul describes in his letter to Tito. Together with this, we have neglected the collective pastoral responsibility that has been given to us. An indication of this negligence is that there are only a few communities of persons in our world today that function ecclesiastically and not ritualistically.
One thing is for sure: a person who does not cultivate one’s spiritual gifts, one’s “distinguished priestly stature”, cannot act as a positive participant in the therapeutic process of the Church. Without such a “dignified stature”, which is associated with a collective crucificial communal commitment, there cannot be a genuine ecclesiastical identity that will support our “Genos”* so as to prevent it from being led to distortion and extinction.
*The word Genos (Γενος) (tr. “People”) was widely and variously used in Greek of all periods to denote ‘species’, ‘genus’, ‘sort’, ‘category’, ‘birth’, ‘kin’, ‘race’, ‘lineage’, ‘family’, ‘generation’, “People”, ‘posterity’, etc. ( see Oxford Classical Dictionary). Being that Jesus is “the Root, the descendant of David — the bright morning star (Revelation 22:16), we too, belonging to Christ, are “descendants of Abraham, heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). ”St. Peter refers to Christians as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession (1 Peter 2:9). They are “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).