Thursday, 14 April 2022 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we celebrate and gather together in the occasion of this Chrism Mass, all of us are called to remember the gift of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit that He has given to each and every one of us through the laying of hands and through anointing with the sacred oils which are going to be blessed today for the various uses they have in the many aspects of the Church and its liturgies. Holy oils have been used for a very long time and in our Christian usage, they have a lot of symbolic and real meaning and uses, especially to mark that one is holy and as belonging to God.

This Chrism Mass is an annual event during which time the bishop of the diocese, the local ordinary gathers together with all the members of the clergy, the priests and all those who have been consecrated to God as His servants. In this Mass not only that the holy oils are blessed, but the priests together with the bishop also renew their priestly vows and promises, as a reminder that they have been called and set aside, consecrated to God by the same holy oils in the Sacrament of the Holy Orders, whether it is to the diaconate, presbyterate or the episcopate.

There are three holy oils used by the Church that are blessed today in the Chrism Mass. They are namely the Sacred Chrism, the Oil of the Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick. Each of them mark Christians through different moments and stages in their lives, with the Oil of the Catechumens used first to mark the catechumens or those who seek to be baptised and welcomed into the Church. All of them are reminders of how the holy oils mark one as sacred and holy, in the same way of how the kings of Israel like Saul, David, Solomon and others were anointed by God through His servants.

The Sacred Chrism, also known as Sanctum Chrisma is usually the one most frequently used as it is used to anoint the newly baptised Christians, as well as during the Sacrament of Confirmation, and also during the dedication and consecration of churches and altars, the ordination of deacons, priests and bishops. The Oil of the Catechumens, also known as Oleum Catechumenorum, as mentioned marks those who have expressed their willingness to embrace the Christian faith and the Lord as their God and Saviour. Lastly, the Oil of the Sick, also known as Oleum Infirmorum, as its name suggests, is used for the anointing of the sick in the Sacrament of the Sick, for those who are in the danger of death.

Each of these holy oils as mentioned mark us Christians at various stages of our faith and life, and all of them are very significant as they are also reminders of our own vocations, our calling as Christians. As Christians, we are all marked by God as His own, as partakers of the Covenant that He has made with us through Christ, His Son. By all that He had done throughout His Passion, which we focus and reflect on this Holy Week, God has established a new and everlasting Covenant with us, a Covenant that is founded on His enduring and patient, wonderful love for every one of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, while today the clergy, the bishops and the priests all around the world are renewing their vows and promises, the whole Church especially the laity are also involved. This day is not a celebration or reminder just for the clergy but also for everyone, as we must not forget that even the laity have all also been anointed with the sacred oils before and after their baptism, and most of us who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation have also been anointed further and given the affirmation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit entrusted to us all. Each and every one of us have been called and chosen, and some of us have been called to a higher calling to give their whole lives to God, but all are called all the same.

Today all of us are reminded to follow Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose life itself is an example for us all to follow, in His obedience to the Father’s will, in His love for each and every one of us, even to the worst of sinners and to the most despised ones among everyone. As Christians, we can no longer be idle in living our faith in our lives. We cannot and should not pay mere lip service to the Lord and pretend to be faithful to Him when in fact we do not have faith in Him. The Lord has always been patient in loving us and in wanting to be reconciled with us, but often it is us who refused to listen to Him and resist His efforts to bring us closer to Him.

Many of us have also not lived our lives as Christians in the way that we should have. We spent a lot of time worrying and caring about our own personal matters, concerns and ambitions, but we barely spent any time with the Lord, and let us ask ourselves if we even thought of having to attend Masses on Sundays as a chore? How many of us cannot wait until the Mass is over so that we can continue with our own daily activities, our own worldly pursuits, the pursuit for money, power, glory, fame and many others? Have we even spent good, precious and quality time with the Lord? Remember, brothers and sisters, this Holy Week is a call for us to recall God’s great love for us, that He willingly took up His Cross to redeem us, because He loved us more than He despised our sins.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore reflect on the importance of answering God’s call in our lives. Let us all turn towards God with faith, with renewed zeal and commitment, that each and every one of us may draw ever closer to God and be His true disciples and followers. Through the anointing with the holy oils we have been marked and made holy for God, and it is time for us to answer His call for us, and embracing Him wholeheartedly from now on. May God be with us always and may He empower us to live ever faithfully in His presence from now on, now and always. Amen.

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