Feast of Jesus Christ, Eternal and Sovereign High Priest
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In the Sulpician liturgical calendar approved by the Holy See in 1996, Thursday after Pentecost is observed as the feast of Jesus Christ, Eternal and Sovereign High Priest.
The origins of observing this feast go back to the earliest days of the Seminary of Saint Sulpice in the seventeenth century. For Sulpician founder, Father Jean-Jacques OLIER, pastor of the Church of Saint Sulpice, only this feast could point the way for future priests to think and act, for Jesus is the only true Priest, the one perfectly obedient to his heavenly Father’s will in offering himself as a sacrifice. The priesthood remains a life of sacrifice.
The first article of the Sulpician Constitutions reads:
“Dedicated to Jesus Christ the High Priest, the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice, born of the apostolate of Jean Jacques Olier, its founder, is a community of diocesan priests whose vocation is the service of those ordained to the presbyteral ministry.” (Art. 1)
The only place in the New Testament where this theology of the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ is developed is in the Letter to the Hebrews. In fact, the only priest in the New Testament is Jesus Christ, and only later did the ministerial priesthood develop as a distinctive ministry rooted in Jesus’ choice of the Twelve apostles to be the foundation for his new community of faith.
A famous passage of Hebrews explains the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ as follows:
“Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:14-16 NRSV)
To all the Sulpicians around the world, Happy Feast Day! Thank you for faithful service in the priesthood, following after Jesus, the Eternal and Sovereign High Priest.