Mary as a Sacrificial Priest

Mary as a Sacrificial Priest

All Christians share in Jesus’ priesthood through the so-called common priesthood of the faithful. Tradition however asserted much more about Mary and this can be seen especially in the way in which Mary is seen as a sacrificial priest, on a par to and parallel with eucharistic ministers.

  1. Mary has often been called explicitly a “sacrificing priest”, a “sacrificer”.
  2. Mary offered Jesus as a sacrifice at the Presentation in the Temple
  3. Mary acted as a sacrificial priest on Calvary

Mary, the sacrificial priest

The Presentation in the Temple

One of the examples of Mary’s sacrificial activities is seen by tradition in the event of the Presentation in the Temple (also known as the Purification). Luke 2,22-35 says that Mary and Joseph went up to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord. The context speaks of sacrifice. Theologians and spiritual writers reflect on this event. They see in it a foreshadowing of Calvary. Jesus was still very young at the time, so Mary went to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer him to the Father for the sake of the world. Since Jesus himself could not perform this early sacrifice, Mary acted as a priest deputed to act in his name.

The sacrifice on Calvary

It is especially on Calvary that Mary’s sacrificial actions took place. Many theologians and spiritual authors think it highly significant that Mary is described as “standing upright” under the cross. ‘Standing by the cross was his mother’ (John 19,25). She had to stand up since this was the posture of a priest standing at the altar when performing the sacrificial rite. Mary was seen as functioning as a priest who offered Jesus to the Father, in conjunction with Jesus himself.

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