Priest, Prophet and King

By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo

This triple role is taken on individually by certain figures in Holy Scripture especially in the Old Testament the likes of Melchizedek (priest), Elijah (prophet) and David (King). It is to anticipate the role of Jesus Christ as Priest, Prophet and King in the New Testament.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is a Priest because He offered up His life as a ransom for our salvation.  He is also a Prophet because He warned people of God’s punishment if Israel and the rest of the world would not abandon sin.  And lastly, He is a King whose Kingdom is in heaven but later on would include Earth after the end of the world.  “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36)

By virtue of our Baptism each one of us is also priest, prophet and king.  We are priests because we can offer sacrifices to God personally with the sufferings we experience in this life, both voluntary and God-sent sufferings.  Voluntary suffering or sacrifice can be in the form of fasting, abstinence and offering up of our daily work.  Our daily work requires effort and is therefore a form of sacrifice that can be pleasing to God provided we do that work well.  God-sent sufferings can be death of a loved one, loss of a job, or sickness in the family.  We make these personal sufferings become a collective offering by uniting it to the entire Church in presenting it to God when we unite it to the Holy Sacrifice of Christ in the Holy Mass.  The priesthood that we have as ordinary Christians is called the common or universal priesthood to distinguish it to the ministerial priesthood of men who have the vocation to be priests to celebrate Mass and officiate the other sacraments.

We are also prophets because we have to speak the truth to all people or to certain persons.  In the Old Testament, prophets would warn people of their impending doom if they don’t repent.  In our case we can be that person who points out the mistakes of others and help them mend their ways.    Likewise, we should also welcome receiving correction from people around us, because we are all imperfect individuals. In the Old Testament, the prophets get corrected (with their behavior) by God Himself.  We ought to be prophets of each other for we are all subject to making mistakes.

We are also kings, kings of ourselves.  A king is meant to govern and we are duty bound to govern ourselves.  In order to govern ourselves we need to practice the virtues starting with the cardinal virtues of prudence (or wisdom), justice, temperance (or self-control) and fortitude (or courage).  The word “cardinal” comes from the Latin word “cardo” which means hinge.  They are called cardinal because they hold the other human virtues like a hinge that without the cardinal virtues you could not come up with the other virtues.  The virtue of prudence means doing the right thing.  The virtue of justice means to render to each person what he or she deserves which includes rewards and punishments.  The virtue of temperance and fortitude are virtues in relation to our feelings.  Temperance is about controlling our feelings or appetite for food, drinks, and other pleasures whereas fortitude is about overcoming our feelings in doing the right thing such overcoming laziness, and not minding what others would say about us if we are doing the right thing.  And if you are married and have your own family, you are the king of that family and is tasked to govern by applying the same virtues mentioned.