By Bishop Anthony T. Lobo
The Greek Fathers of the Church describe the life
of the Trinity
as PERICHORESIS (peri - around; choresis - dancing).
this profound insight, Bishop Lobo lays the foundation
refreshing understanding of priestly identity based
"Pastores Dabo Vobis", says that the source of the
the Blessed Trinity. The Greek Fathers of the Church
life of the Trinity as PERICHORESIS. So the three
persons of the
Trinity are "dancing around".
Though seemingly irreverent at first, there is a
biblical basis for understanding this. Jesus says
in the gospel
"He will glorify me since all he reveals to you
will be taken from what is mine. Everything the Father
has is mine; that is why I said: all he reveals to you
will be taken from what is mine"
Again, in his high priestly prayer, Jesus says to
"All that I have is yours and all you have is mine"(Jn
So we have the divine dance where the Father goes
out to the Son
and gives all - all His wisdom, power, love and life.
But the Son
moves out towards the Father and in turn gives him
back all his
wisdom, power, love and life. This mutual self-giving
is the Holy
Spirit, the giving and receiving between Father and
movements or "missions" within the Trinity is the
of God or "perichoresis".
We are made for self-giving.
The first book of the bible tells us, "God created
man in the
image of Himself, in the image of God He created
him, male and
female He created them" (Gen 1:27). This means that
the nature of
the human person is "perichoretic", because it is
made in the
image and likeness of God. So, in the very core and
center of our
being, we are made for self-giving. To live selfishly
would be to
go against our true nature.
But the same first book of the Bible tells us that
(Gen 3). His perichoretic nature was wounded. The
was distorted. But in his mercy, God promised a saviour,
a woman, whose work would be to restore to human
divine image according to which they were originally
Even before Creation, we catch a glimpse within the
life of the Trinity, of what we later would call
Mystery, the dying and rising to life again. When
gives all to the Son (His wisdom, power, love and
even life) then
He, so to say, "dies". When the Son returns all to
(His wisdom. power, love and even life), the Father,
say, comes back to life again. So we have the roots
Paschal Mystery in the perichoretic life of the Trinity.
When the promised Saviour came as man to redeem man,
action expressed itself in the death and resurrection
of the Son
of God, the Word made flesh. The perichoretic paschal
the Trinity, revealed in the sacrifice of the cross,
was in the
context of a sinful and redeemed humanity. Thus the
of the Redeemer was to "teach all nations and baptize
them in the
name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:20).
therefore means to be plunged back into the perichoictic
the Blessed Trinity, to share once again in the very
life of God,
whose inmost being is mutual self-giving.
Those that become disciples are members of the Church
share in the universal priesthood of all believers.
Their duty is
to live the perichoretic life of the Trinity in whose
likeness they were originally made. Now, thanks to
of the cross, that image and likeness, damaged by
Ministerial priesthood at the service of the common
The question remains: how do the believers who share
priesthood, relate with that sacrifice offered once
and for all
by the one and only High Priest? The answer is through
ministerial priesthood, instituted at the Last Supper,
"Do this in memory of me" (Lk 22:19).
The ministerial priesthood was thus instituted by
Jesus to be at
the service of the common priesthood of the believers.
Christ the High Priest, the ministerial priest stands
and the people of God as, "minister of the sanctuary"
8:2) and "mediator of the New Covenant" (Hebrew 9:15).
ministerial priesthood has a two-fold task towards
towards man: "To stand in my presence to minister"
then "to go out and bless in my name"(man-ward).
In the heavenly
sanctuary, Jesus is intercessor ("He liveth to pray
Hebrews 7:25). He is there to give us access to God's
to bring us close to God.
Spousal Love For The Church
As Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus offers his
cleanse our conscience from all dead works, to serve
God (Hebrews 9:14). The ministerial priesthood, according
Pastores Dabo Vobis, continues on earth this twofold
task of our
High Priest in Heaven. His role is described as sharing
priesthood of Christ the Head and Shepherd. As Head
Church, His Body, we recall that she was born from
heart at the foot of the cross, just as the first
Eve was born
from the side of the first Adam. There is a spousal
Christ and his church which is expressed in priestly
The bond between head and body is not a legal, man-made
one forged with divine love. As Head, he communicates
blessings to his spouse, and carries into heaven
all her prayers
As Shepherd, he feeds his flock on the Bread of Life,
of Heaven, and even lays down his life in sacrifice.
The soul of his sacrifice is perichoresis, the absolute
surrender, the total self-gift, which is the very
life of God and
the core and center of the inner being of all human
and female, created in his image and likeness.
Purpose Of The Ministerial Priesthood
The purpose of the ministerial priesthood is to help
to live according to the restored image and likeness,
themselves according to their common priesthood so
that they can
live once again, according to their true nature,
life of mutual self-giving. The ministerial priest
flock with the eucharistic bread and, following the
Christ, makes present the memorial of the sacrifice
One with the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life
for his sheep,
the ministerial priest also makes his own self-offering,
daily surrender, his absolute self-gift, by living
a life of
complete dedication, utterly unselfish.
In union with Christ in his total self-offering,
becomes one with the Head, becoming the channel of
between God and man, carrying up our prayers and
gifts to God and
bringing down God's graces and blessings to us. Like
High Priest, who " lives to make unceasing intercession
(Hebrews 7:25), the priest is a man of prayer, faithful
Divine Office and leader of the praying Christian
The ministerial priest is minister of reconciliation,
"the blood of Christ which cleanses our conscience
from all dead
works to serve the living God", (Hebrews 9:14).
May all who work for the formation of ministerial
all who are candidates preparing to answer the call
of God to
this great vocation, grow more and more in appreciating
dignity and strive to be more worthy of this priceless
God to the world.
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