Why do we kiss the hands of the priests?

June 21, 2017

Why do we kiss the hands of the priest?

 Most people answer and say because the priest touches the body and blood of Christ, therefore let’s take a part of that blessing. However, if I think about it more logically your own lips have touched the body and blood of Christ. So, why those blessed lips take the blessing of the priest’s hands? To be able to truly understand, the answer to that question I must ask myself a different question. What is the priesthood? Who is the priest? Most people will answer and say the priest is a representative of Christ on earth or the priest is a symbol of Christ. However, both are incorrect. So, what is the priesthood?

Let us look at the bible, in Acts 2:1-4. This is when the disciples became Christian. In other words, the holy spirit came down upon them on the day of Pentecost.  However, if we go a little bit deeper and go back to John 20.  This is the same day of resurrection, in the evening, so it is fifty day before the Pentecost.  Christ appeared to them and did something very weird. In John 20:22-23 (NKJV) we read “and when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, receive the holy spirit. 23 if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Christians receive the holy spirit once how come they receive it twice? We should understand this is when Christ appeared to them and gave them the priesthood; that is why this different quality of the Holy Spirit is linked the forgiveness and retaining of sins. So, this is something very sacramental very mysterious in this priesthood, and we must understand that.

Now let us dig in even deeper.  If we look to the Passover meal, the last super, we have Christ sitting at the table with His disciples around him. Obviously, we know about the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen).  The second person in the Trinity; the Son of God is sitting in the flesh at this table and He breaks His own body. So, we have the Son of God braking the Son of God. This is exactly what happens every single liturgy that we pray. We have the son of God, in the priest, breaking the Son of God in the bread. So, the priesthood is not a representation of Christ, rather it is the presence of Christ.  When we hear our families in Upper Egypt say: “Christ has visited us today”, when a priest comes in their home, because they have understood that sacramentally, mystically, the actual presence of Christ was there in their house. That is why also, all sacraments are performed by priests. Communion, confession, baptism all them by a priest. You can’t have a layman perform to sacrament. because he doesn’t have the actual presence of Christ in him in this mystical priesthood that God has given to certain people to serve him.

Finally, there are many quotes from the Church Fathers about the priesthood, but I will only use one for the sake of time. Let all reverence the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the son of the Father, and the presbyters as the Sanhedrin of God, and assembly of the Apostles. Apart from these, there is no church”   (Saint Ignatius: letter to the Trallians chapter 3).  So, things are clear from the Bible, from the Church Fathers, and from our apostolic tradition. So, let us come back to the original question: why do we kiss the hand of the priest?  We kiss the hands of the priest, because mystically we are kissing the hand of Christ himself that is in that priest, in the sacrament of that priesthood. But, the priest removes his hand out of humility and imitating our fathers the monks.

             Remember; know your faith, live your faith,

                    and teach your faith.      

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