Minister of Christ

Jesus Christ is the envoy of the Father: as the Father has sent me, so I send you (Jn 20:21). Christ also has His own envoys that He sends.

Christ is the High Priest (Heb 2:17), which supposes that there are others who participate in His priesthood. He is the teacher (Jn 13:13) par excellence, which implies a need for collaborators who teach the people. He is the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11) and also the chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4); thus there are others who pasture, submitting to His principality. The result is that the New Testament speaks of different collaborators of Jesus Christ in the work that was commended to Him by the Father. This is why Saint Paul says: we are God’s co-workers (1 Cor 3:9).

These different collaborators are called:

  • Disciples;
  • Apostles or the Twelve;
  • Ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20; Eph 6:20);
  • Preachers, apostles and teachers of the Gospel (2 Tim 1:11);
  • Slaves or servants of Christ Jesus (Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1);
  • Servants of Christ (1 Cor 4:1);
  • Lastly, ministers of Christ Jesus (Rom 15:16; 1 Tim 4:6);

I now want to emphasize this beautiful title given to the priest: minister.

Saint Paul uses minister to refer to the service or ministry of the cause of Jesus Christ. The word minister (and ministry) is the classic and characteristic way of designating the office of a collaborator or instrument of Christ, or, more simply, the priest of Christ.[1]

Saint Paul is:

  • a minister of the Gospel (Col 1:23);
  • not a minister of death;[2]
  • what the Apostles are, and even more so.[3]

A good minister is one:

  • like Timothy, who teaches sound doctrine;[4]
  • like Timothy, who must fulfill his ministry;[5]
  • whose “ministry expresses collaborative action in the Gospel of Christ.”[6]
  • who carries out the ministry of the Spirit;[7]
  • who carries out the ministry of righteousness (or justice)[8]
  • who brings a ministry of reconciliation[9]
  • whose ministry is the service of the holy ones[10]
  • whose ministry is a liturgical service[11]

Therefore, we:

  • are ministers of a new covenant[12]
  • are those to whom Christ gives strength and a share in His priestly ministry[13]
  • have this ministry on account of the mercy that God has shown us[14]
  • must preach Jesus Christ as Lord[15]
  • are made slaves of the faithful for the sake of Jesus[16]
  • work as an envoy or ambassador in the person of Christ in such a way that it is God Himself who exhorts through our ministry[17]

Collaboration with Christ in His work in the New Testament is a sign, as we have just seen, of an attitude of service and of ministry. This work is not concerned with desiring greatness or external honors. Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave (Mt 20:27).

Consequently, we are:

  • collaborators;
  • servants;
  • ministers;
  • instruments of Christ.

In Christ’s work, we are simply the instrumental cause. Only Christ is the principal cause. Four important points can be derived from this, and both priests, like us, and laity alike should always keep these in mind:

  • The priest does not act by his own power, but rather by the power of the principal cause which is seen particularly in the Transubstantiation and the forgiveness of sins (only God can forgive sins). The work of God by means of the ministerial priest
  • totally transcends the priest and in such a way that the distance and qualitative disproportion that exists between the sanctity of said work and the indignity of the instrument will never be over-come.
  • Priestly action–in what is specifically priestly–is entirely from the principal cause, although by means of the instrument. From here comes the teaching: “The good priest does not do more, nor the bad one less.”[18] The grace of God passes as much through a silver pipe as through a lead one.
  • The instrumental cause does not have his own end, but rather must work according to the end of the Principal Cause. We are priests for God, not for ourselves. We are priests for God’s plans, and not for our own.
  • Given that the Principal Cause is absolutely perfect, the deficiencies that we see in the ministry are ours, and not the Principal Cause’s.

[1] Cfr. Real Academia Española, the second meaning in the Diccionario de la Real Acade-mia Española (Madrid 1992).  

[2] Cfr. 2 Cor 3:6. 

[3] Cfr. 2 Cor 11:23. 

[4] Cfr. 1 Tim 4:6. 

[5] Cfr. 2 Tim 4:5.  

[6] Cfr. M. Nicolau, Ministros de Cristo (Madrid 1971) 68.  

[7] Cfr. 2 Cor 3:8.  

[8] Cfr. 2 Cor 3:9.  

[9] Cfr. 2 Cor 6:3.  

[10] Cfr. 2 Cor 8:4.  

[11] Cfr. 2 Cor 9:12.  

[12] 2 Cor 3:6.  

[13] Cfr. 1 Tim 1:12.  

[14] 2 Cor 4:1.  

[15] Cfr. 2 Cor 4:5.  

[16] Cfr. 2 Cor 4:5.  

[17] Cfr. 2 Cor 5:20.  

[18] DS 794.  



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