This post is part of a three part series. See part one here.
As we continue our look at the three munera, or duties, of fatherhood revealed to us in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, we today turn our attention to the munus sanctificandi, or the father’s duty to sanctify his family.
The Priesthood of Jesus
Before we can understand how the father of the family acts as a priest, it is important to first understand the high priesthood of Jesus. Like every priest, Jesus stands in the gap between God and man, offering a sacrifice to atone for the sins of his people. What is unique about the priesthood of Christ, however, is that the sacrifice he offers is nothing other than himself. On the cross and in the Mass, Jesus is both priest and sacrificial victim, both the offerer and the offered. No other priest can say this.
But why does Jesus need to offer himself at all? Because of sin. It takes only a cursory glance at human experience to realize that mankind has a sin problem. We’re born broken and inclined toward evil, and without the grace of God, we can never do anything good. Every human being knows this at some level, and a great deal of human history can be described as an effort to rid ourselves of our sins.
Therefore, because of our sinful state, we need a priest to do what we cannot do—offer a satisfactory offering to atone for our sins. That is exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross and continues to do at every Mass. Through the sacrificial offering of himself, Christ makes possible our sanctification, forgiveness, and ultimately, salvation.
The Father as Priest
By now you may be thinking, “That is nice theology, but what exactly does it have to do with fatherhood?”
That’s a good question. The answer is that we, as fathers, are called to imitate Jesus Christ by offering prayers and sacrifices on