Three studies from a celebrated Australian biblical scholar contribute to the debate about how we understand priestly ministry within the Catholic tradition.
Francis J Moloney argues that any assessment regarding the ongoing viability of an institution must include study of its origins which is why central to the book is the chapter that explores the New Testament origins of priesthood. The chapter questions and challenges some traditional teaching connecting priesthood with Last Supper narratives or the so-called priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17.
Yet, he also acknowledges the centrality of Eucharist in the ancient Christian communities as disciples gathered to remember the teachings of Jesus and to celebrate his memory in the breaking of bread. The importance of Eucharist led to a growing sense of the dignity and significance of those chosen to preside, resulting in a natural development of the church’s understanding of that special ministry within the community.
So the first and the third chapters serve as a ‘frame’ around these reflections. Chapter One ‘Encountering Jesus: Exploring our Biblical heritage’ argues that all biblical reflection upon the Christian life – including priesthood and leadership in the church - must start with the person and message of Jesus of Nazareth; while Chapter Three develops this challenge to contemporary Catholicism, asking where we find access to this Jesus Christ whose memory we recall at the breaking of the bread and the pouring out of the cup.
Although the focus and the centre-piece of this collection is the Catholic priesthood, the message at the heart of Broken for You is directed to everyone in the church, asserting – against the scourge of clericalism – that there is no class distinction among the people of God who look to Jesus Christ as their guide, light and hope.