by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos
The value of the priesthood is great. St. John Chrysostom writes:
“The work of the priesthood is done on earth, but it is ranked among heavenly ordinances”
since it was not ordained by man, angel, archangel or other created power, but by
“the Paraclete himself”.
“As the sun excels the stars”
so does the celebration by the priest
“excel all psalmody and prayer”
and differ from all the other services. This is because through the sacrament of the Eucharist we sacrifice the Only-begotten Himself who was slain for our sins. If one celebrates properly
“the divine, revered and awesome mysteries, the benefit derived from this will be greater than that which one derives from any work or from theoria.”
The value of the priesthood, which can sacrifice the fatted calf, is due to the fact that it helps man to go from the image of God to the likeness of God. It can guide him towards deification, which is in fact the healing of man, or rather manifests this healing.
The Fathers, comparing the priesthood with many other kinds of work, consider it greater, because other offices help man to solve worldly problems, while the priesthood leads him to deification. Therefore
“the priesthood is higher even than a kingdom”,
since the one
“governs divine things and the other governs earthly things.”
Indeed, as we have emphasized, in pastoral work the priesthood is the priesthood of Christ himself. The priests minister this grace upon the people and therefore are able to forgive and heal the sins of men.
We have said only these few things about the value of the priesthood, for it was not our purpose in this chapter to emphasize the great value of that work.