Priest, Prophet, and King

Although what we owe to Jesus is included in the commandment to love God, it is nevertheless worth considering what we owe to him as the Christ, that is, as the mediator and bond of God’s love for us and ours for him. To do this we should look to Christ’s own explanation of the famous prophecy of his reign spoken by David his forefather.

How lovely it is that the Christ should have been seen by his fathers! By Abraham, who saw his day and rejoiced in it (John 8:56), and by David, who was stunned by his grandeur and called “my Lord” (Ps. 110:1) one who would be his own son.

As God gave to Abraham the promise of the multiplication of the faithful, so he gave to David that of his eternal kingdom, of a throne that would outlast the sun and the moon (Ps. 89:35-7). Thus it was fitting that Da­vid — to whom as a figure of Jesus Christ the promise was made — would be the first to recognize the Christ by calling him his Lord. “The Lord said to my Lord” (Ps. 110:1); it is as if he had said, “It appears that God has promised a never-ending empire to me, but, in truth, it is to you, my son and also my Lord, to whom it shall be given. And I come in spirit, the first of all your subjects, to pay you homage upon your throne, at the right hand of your Father, as to my sovereign Lord.”

“If David thus calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matt. 22:45). By this question, Jesus wished to lift their sights to the higher birth of the Christ, who was not merely the Son of David, but the only-begotten Son of God. All they had to do in order to learn of this eternal birth was to continue the psalm, for God himself says in what follows: “In the brightness of the saints; from the womb before the dawn I begot thee” (Ps. 109:3, Douay-Rheims [RSV = Ps. 110:3]).

This article is from a chapter in “Meditations for Lent.” Click image to preview or order.

Before the dawn, before that light that sets and rises every day had begun to appear, there was an eternal light that made the happiness of the saints: it is in this eternal light that I have begotten you.

I adore you, O Jesus, my Lord, in this immense and eternal light. I adore you as the light that “enlightens every man” (John 1:9): God from God, light from light, true God from true God.

What a joy it is to see Jesus Christ himself explaining the prophecies that touch upon him and thus teaching us how we should understand all the others. All that we owe to Jesus is shown to us in this psalm. We see him first as God, and we say: this is our God, and there is no other. For if he has been begotten, he is the Son; if he is the Son, he is of the same nature as the Father; if he is the same nature as his Father, he is God, and one God alone with his Father, for nothing is more essential to God than his unity.

He is king. Where is his throne? At the right hand of God. Could it be placed any higher? Everything depends upon this throne, all that depends upon God and the kingdom of Heaven is submitted to him: here is his reign.

This empire is a sacred one, a priesthood, and a priesthood established by an oath. God willed by a more particular declaration of his will to mark this priesthood as unique: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind.” The priesthood of Jesus Christ is eternal: “You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4). You have neither beginning nor end. This is not a priesthood that came from your ancestors, nor one that will pass to your descendants. Your priesthood will not pass to other hands: there will be priests who will sacrifice under you, but they will be your vicars and not your successors.

You celebrate an eternal office for us at the right hand of your Father. You continually hold up the marks of the wounds that appeased him and save us. You offer him our prayers. You intercede for our faults. You bless and consecrate us. From the heights of Heaven you baptize your children. You change earthly gifts into your Body and Blood. You take away our sins. You send your Holy Spirit, consecrate your ministers, and accomplish all that they perform in your name. When we are born, you wash us with heavenly water; when we die, you support us with the comfort of your anointing, and our sufferings become our remedies, our death a passage to true life. O God! O King! O High Priest! I unite myself to you in all of these qualities and submit myself to your divinity, your rule, and your priesthood, which I honor in humility and faith in the person of those by whom you are pleased to exercise it on earth.

Editor’s note: This article is from a chapter in Meditations for Lentwhich is available from Sophia Institute Press

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

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Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627–1704) was a theologian and French bishop. With a great knowledge of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, he devoted himself to writing in a way that was approachable to every person. Though lionized by the great English converts such as Waugh, Belloc, and Knox, his writing has only recently been made available in English. His Meditations for Advent is available from Sophia Institute Press.

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