In this video Msgr. Jeffrey A. Ingham talks about “The Priesthood of Christ”
The priesthood of the New Testament is very different from that of the Old Testament. The old priesthood, instituted by Moses, was hereditary and it involved the vicarious sacrifice of animals to God. With the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that priesthood ceases to exist. Through Christ’s sacrificial offering of Himself on the cross, He becomes The Priest of the entire world. Crucially, Christ as Priest is not only the person who offers the sacrifice, He is also the person who is sacrificed. Moreover, Christ’s Priesthood does not leave us, since He wants His sacrificial offering of Himself to remain with us throughout history. Therefore, He gives the authority to His apostles to exercise His Priesthood, fulfilled through His Passion. The upshot of this sacerdotal genealogy is that there are not in fact many priests; Jesus Christ is the only priest, and His priesthood is exercised by those people to whom it is given. The job of the modern priesthood is to offer the sacrifice that Jesus Christ has given us: the sacrifice of Himself, which is what we celebrate in the Mass.
This transition from old priesthood to new is reflected in the language of the Bible. The New Testament introduces the Greek word “presbuteros” to refer to priests, distancing the new priesthood from the pagan priesthood of old. This development expresses the radical novelty of Christ’s Priesthood, which was based on sacrifice of self through infinite love.
Msgr Jeffrey Ingham, V.F., is Pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Review Board Member of Child and Youth Protection for the Archdiocese of Raleigh.