why do we call a priest father

If you have encounters with non-Catholic Christians you might hope that they will ask you questions that really matter like, Why do you trust church tradition in addition to the Bible? or Do you worship the Pope? or What is the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary? Unfortunately one of the most common challenges is Why do you call your priests Father when Jesus clearly says, Call no man Father. in Matthew 23:9? Here are ten answersбto this common question. 1. The Bible itself is full of examples of people calling an elder in the faith Father.

Eliakim the steward is given a fatherly role of governance: Isa. 22:20-21 and in 2 Kings 2:12 Elisha calls Elijah, My Father, My Father! 2. The New Testament refers to the first priests (the Apostles) as Father. In I Corinthians 4 St Paul teaches about the true nature of being an apostle and refers to himself as the Father of the Corinthians (v. 15) and goes on to say that Timothy is his son. In I John 2 the Apostle John writes to his children and speaks to his fellow priests as Fathers. This follows the tradition of referring to the Jewish elders as Father (Acts 7:2; 22:1)

Focussing on the prohibition against callingб someone Father misses the point. б The point of Jesus teaching in Matthew 23:9 is not to prohibit calling people Father but to warn against religious teachers who set themselves up as the sole arbiters of truth. Reading the verse in context makes this clear. 4 Jesus is warning against false religious teachersб б Jesus is teachingб his disciples to watch out for egotistical false teachers. In the context he is criticizing the hypocritical Pharisees who were setting themselves up with particular schools of disciples.

The disciples reverenced their scholarly teachers with the respectful titles Father and Teacher. 5. Jesus is teaching the disciples not to be totally subservient to a human teacher. б This is similar to Paul s warning for the early Christians not to give undue reverence and allegiance to their religious teacher. In I Corinthians 3 he says, For when one says, БI follow Paul,Б and another, БI follow Apollos,Бare you not mere human beings?

What, after all, is Apollos? б And what is Paul? Only servants,б through whom you came to believeБas the Lord has assigned to each his task. But there is a more fundamental problem in this discussion Those who tend toward biblical literalism sometimes express concern for PaulБs presentation of himself as a father of the church, a concern that carries over to using the word БfatherБ in other religious contexts as well. This is due to a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus cautions his listeners that they should Бcall no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heavenБ (Matt. 23:9).

But when read in context, it is apparent this commandment comes after a story where Jesus contrasts a sincere religious leader, who practices what he preaches, with one who fails to follow the teachings he conveys. Jesus is not insisting that we avoid using the word father in all metaphorical senses but that we recognize that only God can be perfect; only God can fulfill the role of the sincere religious leader.